Archeologists Rethinking Triassic Period Because of Massive Dinosaur Bones

Researchers admit the discovery of the giant dinosaur was a surprise

"This new discovery was a pleasant surprise, and I think it's one of the most important dinosaur finds of the last few years", Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland who wasn't involved in the study, told Live Science.

The team also found biological evidence for just how the creature managed to get so big so early.

"This reveals that the first pulse towards gigantism in dinosaurs occurred over 30 million years before the appearance of the first [true sauropods]", write the researchers in their study.

But the discovery of I. prima shows that this was not the case, with gigantism seemingly evolving around 30 million years earlier than thought, according to Cecilia Apaldetti, from the Universidad Nacional de San Juan, Argentina, and her colleagues.

As the researchers pointed out, during early-Triassic, when dinosaurs started to grow, there were many small reptiles which evolved in giant dinosaurs. It was at least twice as large as the other plant-eaters that shared the warm, savannah environment it inhabited.

There have been excavations of four skeletons in all, out of which one is an entirely new species, and the other three are of related dinosaurs.

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For a long time, as noted, Apalette, scientists believed that their ancestors appeared in the late Triassic period, about 210 million years ago.

Dinosaurs first appeared around 230 million years ago, and it was believed to have taken them about 50 million years to become massive. The lengthy neck and tail belonged to the sauropod family of dinosaurs. Cyclic growth was common in the dinosaurs of that period, but they usually stopped growing until they reached nearly 1.8 tons in weight and 3 meters in length.

The remarkably preserved specimens were discovered in a dinosaur "nest" unearthed at a World Heritage site known for its fossils in Argentina's north western San Juan province. The fossilized remains include a shoulder bone, several neck vertebrae, and some bones from the legs and tail.

Growth rings seen in its bones show it grew very fast.

The last, iconic sauropods had the benefit of a long history of evolutionary innovation in this regard, said Dr Apaldetti. Ingentia has been estimated to have weighed about 10 tons, which is huge for its time but makes it a relative lightweight next to some of its descendants like Patagotitan, the largest land animal to ever walk the Earth.

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