Scientists have been on the hunt for dinosaurs for decades now, working tirelessly to unearth what remains can be found and use them to understand what life was like before our species ruled the planet. Apart from the daunting critical thinking and high-memory retention requirements of their profession, these scientists dedicate time, money, and energy-consuming fieldwork into digging up tons and tons of soil. All of this needs to be done if they want to make significant advancements in their research.
While many people forge on, receiving little notoriety for their hard work, the you’re about to meet found something so significant it will surely make them a sensation in the science world. Read on to discover how a group of palaeontologists unearthed a massive new dinosaur in this Argentinian excavation site.
History In The Making
There was a particular site in Argentina our crew of scientists had been eyeing off for some time. The moment this group of intrepid paleontologists received approval to start digging, they got their hands dirty. With the right people on board, and work happening at a good pace, they were able to analyze every little thing that emerged from the dig site.
It took them many hours and a lot of hard work before they found something significant. When they did, though, it was more than they could ever hope for. Massive in both size and scientific import, this breakthrough seemed, from their initial review, to be the remains of a never-before unidentified dinosaur. Could it be? Did they find a new species of dinosaur?
The First Dinosaurs Discovered
Humans first became aware of the existence of dinosaurs in 1676, when a fossilized femur was unearthed. The dino bone was discovered in England by a chap named Reverend Plot. It was a mind-boggling discovery at the time; one that took many years to be understood. Indeed, it wasn’t even documented until 1763.
This simple discovery was the start of a new field of science as it urged a considerable amount of people in the field to travel across the world on the hunt for more of these peculiar skeletal remains. British scientists dug, collected, and studied tirelessly until they concluded that these strange skeletons belonged to creatures that existed long before us humans. The name “dinosaurs” was soon settled upon. This piece of the Earth’s evolutionary puzzle finally made sense of why the ancient Chinese, Greek, and Roman civilizations believed in mythical creatures like dragons and giants: they may well have come across dinosaur bones.
Captivating The World
Within the stillness of their bones, dinosaurs hold the mystery of ancient myths and legends. They provide the same excitement that dragons and other mythical creatures contain. But what makes them so much more special, is that they are known to have really existed. This is probably why so many young children are fascinated by these ancient creatures.
It didn’t take long for dinosaurs to become a worldwide sensation, piquing the imaginations of youngsters and adults alike. After all, who could resist the idea of giant beasts ruling the Earth at some point? This worldwide interest gave kids a whole new professional career path to dream of; that of becoming a paleontologist.
Keeping Their Eyes Peeled All The Time
Paleontologists are on the lookout for their next dig with the same hunger and enthusiasm as musicians looking for their next gig. It is their bread and butter. Our knowledge of dinosaurs might be more thorough if only big cities like New York could allow them to dig in a few areas. The finding in Argentina proves that our planet still has many secrets that humankind is yet to discover.
The group of paleontologists involved received no guarantee that their efforts would pay off. All they had to go on was their knowledge and assessment of how the land was laid out. By looking at how it was naturally shaped, they knew that something existed there years before the reign of humans. While the amount of knowledge and work required to have this profession is already quite impressive on its own, the fact that they can retrieve valuable and accurate information from the examination of inert matter is truly out of this world.
The Jurassic Era Reimagined
Back to the development of the dinosaur craze, and the fame of these creatures became so widespread that people thought to capitalize on it. Hence, the birth of a movie franchise in the ’90s, one we all know and love: Jurassic Park. This Spielberg classic was a hit among youngsters and adults alike. Ahead of its time in terms of special effects, the film gave audiences a chance to see dinosaurs alive and moving in front of their very eyes.
Adults finally got a chance to finally see in film what they only pictured in their minds as children. Many years later, the Jurassic Park franchise remains one of the biggest in the movie industry. Will the discovery in Argentina reawaken the world’s dinosaur love and lead to a new era of dino-based films?
Teamwork Makes The Dream Work!
Paleontologists hailing from three different Argentinian universities teamed up to find the next big thing in the field of science. These three prominent institutions were the Muse Paleontologico Egidio Feruglio, Nacional de Rio Negro, and Universidad Nacional de San Juan. If it weren’t for the teamwork of these prestigious schools, this breakthrough wouldn’t have been possible.
The findings were published in the journal of Ecology & Evolution in 2018. Their discovery forever changed the world’s understanding of ancient history, making it one of the greatest finds of the century thus far.
Setting Up The Excavation Site
Thanks to some impeccable teamwork from these three universities, the paleontologists were able to identify a site that might hold a bunch of fossilized remains. It was located 600 miles away from Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina. The team was so dedicated to making it happen that they relocated all of their staff to the Balde de Leyes, which proved to be a great move as it led them to their groundbreaking discovery.
At this point, the scientists have gone all in, despite not having any guarantee that they’ll find even a single artifact of importance. However, knowledge and skills are your best friends in the face of uncertainty, and in this case, they came through (and then some).
Unearthing Fossilized Remains
When these paleontologists from different schools were brought together to decide which area would be the best place to unearth bones, they were expected to use their skills and knowledge to do so. Fortunately, their collective hunch was right, and soon enough they were able to dig up something beyond what they imagined in Balde de Leyes.
Finding a set of bones signaled that they had chosen the right spot to excavate. But it wasn’t until they started to chip away the dirt encasing the remains that they realized they were in for something far grander than they anticipated. The team had no idea that what they were about to discover would forever etch their names in the science world’s hall of archaeological fame!
Unearthing A Baby Dino
As the team and their staff carefully worked dirt away from the fossil, the bones revealed themselves in front of the paleontologist’s eyes. A leg was taken first and then came the spinal vertebrae. After much research, the group confirmed that the small collection wasn’t from an adolescent dinosaur.
The size of the bones made it appear that they came from a young critter. However, sometimes there’s more to a discovery like this than meets the eye. The Balde de Leyes expedition was going to be a fruitful one, but not for the reasons the scientists expected.
What Made This Site Special?
Paleontologists dedicated so much time, effort, and money to gaining knowledge in their discipline. When they finally get to go out in the field, finding dinosaur bones is the goal. What came as a surprise to the team wasn’t the fact that they found fossilized remains on the site, but that bones like the ones they unearthed had never before been documented in the history of paleontology.
As they continued to dig deeper, more fossils were unearthed; ones capable of surprising the team even more.
Discovering Four More Skeletons
The paleontologists were able to piece together four different animals, all of which exceeded their expectations. Three of the ancient creatures were species that had already been documented and studied in the past, but the other one was the team’s pride and joy!
The fourth one came from a juvenile dinosaur, but it wasn’t tiny. In fact, it was downright massive. Once the full skeleton had been exhumed and measured, the scientists confirmed that it was 23 feet long. Imagine a creature so massive that its babies are almost as long as a two-story building. How could a dinosaur this gigantic remain undiscovered for so long?
A Massive Prehistoric Animal
After thorough research and study, the experts suggest that this dinosaur could reach an adult size of 33 feet in length and likely weight a whopping ten tons. Imagine a creature with a mass like this walking around the Earth! They must have looked so majestic.
With a size that big, it’s hard to imagine that this animal would’ve had to deal with any predators. One scientist suggested that the only risk these creatures likely faced was from each other, given their unbelievably gargantuan size. Apart, of course, from the Ice Age that wiped out every dinosaur of the time, big and small.
Changing The Face Of Paleontology
According to experts, the earliest signs of gigantism date back to around 200 million years ago, which was the Jurassic period. Upon checking the age of their massive juvenile discovery, results suggest that it existed even before the giant dinosaurs we already know of came along.
The finding changed the face of paleontology, suggesting that gigantism existed before and after the massive dinosaur wipeout.
The Giants Of The Jurassic Period
Everyone knows that the most famous batch of dinosaurs in today’s modern world came from the Jurassic era. Some of the notable ones include the Brachiosaurus and the Diplodocus, both of which could get close to 100 feet at their longest. Yes, they were even bigger than the ones the paleontologists from the Argentinian excavation site discovered!
These two species of dinosaurs are considered the biggest the world has ever seen, and because of their size, they had virtually no natural predators. But what made these two dinosaurs so lovable to modern human minds was the fact that they were herbivores who were likely as gentle in nature as our modern-day cows.
A Name For The Baby
The paleontologists labeled the new dinosaur they discovered in Argentina “Sauropodomorph,” a word that translates to “lizard-foot form.” Through carbon dating, results showed that this animal existed from the Triassic period, which happened 30 million years before the Jurassic era.
Before the Sauropodomorph’s discovery, scientists were of the understanding that giant animals didn’t exist outside of the Jurassic period. But unearthing the Argentine fossil completely repainted their understanding of the prehistoric world. Now, scientists everywhere are weighing in on the matter, trying to understand how this fits with all the other puzzle pieces we have from that era.
Introducing The Ingentia Prima
One of the best parts of discovering an undocumented species is that you get to be the one to choose its scientific name. All the recognition you get from your peers and colleagues is nice too, but naming a species is undeniably cool. In this case, the paleontologists chose to name it the Sauropodomorph “Ingentia prima,” which means “the first giant.”
Cecilia Apaldetti, a paleontologist from the three school-team that found the science-bending discovery, said that it didn’t take long for them to realize that what they were digging up was way different from anything they had ever seen before. Well, they were right, and because of this, their names will forever be remembered as the team who discovered the first prehistoric giant.
The Discovery of The First Giant
The science world believed that gigantism amongst dinosaurs happened only within the bounds of the Jurassic period. The Argentine discovery completely scrapped that idea and opened a gaping hole full of questions. Now it is evident that this phenomenon also happened in the Triassic period.
Discoveries from Ingentia Prima all point to the fact that its growth was entirely different from its gigantic relatives in the Jurassic Era. Another esteemed dinosaur expert, Dr. Steve Brusatte, who hails from the University of Edinburgh, studied the bones himself. He then made a statement that the discovery of the first giant is proof of how unique these animals were.
Just Like Diplodocus and Brachiosaurus
The Sauropodomorph, despite existing in the Triassic period, which predates the Jurassic era by a good 30 million years, shares quite a resemblance in traits with the Brachiosaurus and Diplodocus. The three giants got around on four legs as opposed to many dinosaurs who used only their hind legs for walking.
But if there’s one significant difference that sets the Ingentia Prima apart from its two Jurassic period successors is that its neck and tail didn’t grow as long as theirs.
The Growth Of The Ingentia Prima
Another thing that sets the Ingentia prima apart from most of the other giant dinosaurs is its growth process. While the Brachiosaurus and the Diplodocus never stopped growing throughout their lifetime, the Ingentia Prima dealt with growth differently.
Upon studying the growth rings that are evident in its bones, results suggest that the animal would grow in sudden bursts and would then stop. This meant that it would reach its maximum length once it hit adulthood, and (much like a human) would stop there.
Traits Shared With Birds
Studying the bones of the Ingentia prima allowed paleontologists to understand more about how the animal behaved when it was alive. It had a respiratory system that appears to be very similar to what we see amongst modern birds. It also had considerably large air sacs inside its body, which seem to have been very useful to the creature.
Because of these traits, the Ingentia prima was able to regulate its body temperature efficiently while also storing up massive amounts of air to breathe when needed.
Double The Size
Observations from scientists suggest that the Ingentia prima was around twice the size of the herbivores of its time, making it the biggest herbivore of the Triassic period by quite an impressive margin. With its size, few other dinosaurs from that period could have posed much of a threat, but that probably didn’t stop other animals from trying.
Months of studying the Ingentia Prima fossils allowed scientists to confirm that if there was a creature capable of attacking the species, it would be the Triassic version of the modern-day crocodile. But that would mean a hefty amount of effort on the part of the predator.
Its Survival Strategy
According to one of the scientists involved in the discovery of its remains, gigantism itself is a defense mechanism amongst dinosaurs. Apaldeti explained that it was, in fact, one of the best survival strategies of its time.
In a world of teeth and predators, animals would have better chances of survival if there wasn’t anything bigger than them. The success of the Ingentia prima’s strategy remains unclear since they were wiped out before they could establish themselves long-term.
The First Of All Giants
The Ingentia Prima is proof that dinosaurs used gigantism as a means to survive the predator infested Triassic era. It has been one of the most effective survival methods at the time. This discovery just goes to show that no matter how much we think we know about the past, there’s always something (like the Ingentia prima) waiting to turn our “knowledge” on its head.
The discovery of the Ingentia Prima opened up more opportunities for new and exciting discoveries. It’s incredible how these dinosaurs can still surprise humanity despite having been extinct for millions of years. It’s true that this Argentine giant is currently considered the first of all the colossal dinosaurs, but who knows; maybe there are others out there just waiting for the right time to be discovered. The search continues.