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Finding a family for an Ultrasaurus.

Finding a family for an Ultrasaurus

The name sounds like the answer to a child's riddle: "What do you call a dinosaur that weighed more than 80 tons and could look down onto the roof of a five-story building?'

Ultrasaurus, of course.

But neither children nor low-budget filmmakers created this beast. In 1979, paleontologists at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, uncovered bones that suggested a dinosaur of that stature, and they coined this genus name. While other scientists have since discovered a dinosaur they call Seismosaurus (SN: 8/16/86, p.103), which surpassed Ultrasaurus in length, Brigham Young researchers believe that Ultrasaurus holds the title of the tallest and possibly heaviest dinosaur ever discovered.

Although they have created the genus name Ultrasaurus, scientists are still unsure whether the animal they are studying belongs in a genus of its own or was just a large Brachiosaurus-- one of a genus of dinosaurs with long, slender tails and necks that are distinguished from other sauropods by having a front set of legs that was longer than their hind set.

This month, though, Brigham Young scientists unearthed a 4-foot-long neck vertebra that they think might finally settle the genus question. They say the answer hinges on whether Ultrasaurus has a bifurcated (branched) spine, and a thorough investigation in the coming months should determine this.
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Title Annotation:classification of tallest dinosaur ever discovered
Publication:Science News
Date:Aug 29, 1987
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