200-million year old monster pushes back the clock on giant dinosaurs

Argentine investigators working on the extraction of the remains of a giant dinosaur 'Ingenia prima' from the Balde de Leyes formation near Marayes San Juan province Argentina

Huge new gentle giant dinosaur the size of a double decker bus discovered in Argentina

The bones of the Ingentia prima were found in western Argentina, in Balde de Leyes, an area where other dinosaur species and ancestors of turtles, iguanas, and mice were found.

Scientists previously believed that giant dinosaurs didn't come into existence until 25 million years later.

It had previously been thought that gigantism developed during the Jurassic period, around 180 million years ago.

The fossils were discovered by a crew led by Dr. Cecilia Apaldetti in Argentina's San Juan Province.

The fossil was found in the northwest of Argentina during a field trip.

Dr Apaldetti said: "Sauropods were the first successful group of herbivorous dinosaurs, dominating most terrestrial ecosystems for more than 140 million years, from the Late Triassic to Late Cretaceous".

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All this, according to Apalette, says that the first giant dinosaurs appeared on Earth at least 30 million years earlier than paleontologists believed in the past.

An improved respiratory system and modifications to the vertebral musculature and hind limbs were key factors to the giant growth spurt, theorize the researchers. Analysis showed that I. prima weighed between seven and 10 tons (the largest African elephants weight between six and seven tons), and it already exhibited an elongated neck and long tail, though not almost as pronounced as those seen later. "That in Latin means the "first giant". 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. This way of growing was widespread amongst the dinosaurs of that era, but excluding Ingentia prima, no other species reached more than three meters in length while weighting around 1.8 tones. The fossilized remains include a shoulder bone, several neck vertebrae, and some bones from the legs and tail.

'Sauropods evolved from these smaller forms and became the largest land animals that ever lived on Earth'.

The dinosaur - named Ingentia prima, meaning "the first giant" - was up to 33ft long and weighed about 10 tons, living about 210 million years ago during the Triassic Period. Unlike the younger sauropods, these creatures stood on bent legs and had bones that thickened through accelerated bursts instead of steady and rapid growth.

Like dinosaurs that lived later, it had bird-like air sacs, which may have been needed to keep large animals cool and supply large amounts of oxygen.

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