Move over, T. rex!
The new dino-king gets its name from Ruben Carolini, a car mechanic and amateur "rock hound" who discovered the first Giganotosaurus bone in Argentina's Patagonia badlands. Paleontologists (fossil scientists) from a museum near the discovery site have spent the past two years unearthing 70 percent of the dinosaur's skeleton, including a shin bone and several vertebrae.
By measuring the bones, scientists can estimate the new dinosaur's size and weight. Rodolfo Coria, a paleontologist at the Carmen Funes Museum in Argentina, says Giganotosaurus was slightly longer and weighed about three tons more than T rex.
The scientists also dug up "bladelike teeth with serrations [notches] on them," says Paul Sereno, a paleontologist at the University of Chicago who has examined the bones. "Those serrations are a classic flesh-eating adaptation," Sereno says. Make that big adaptations; Giganotosaurus's teeth measure up to 20 centimeters (8 inches) long.
Some of the teeth were still attached to Giganotosaurus's skull, which measures 1.5 meters (5 feet) and resembles T. rex's. But even though the two dinosaurs looked a lot alike--both had short arms and walked on two legs--scientists say they aren't closely related. T rex lived in North America and Giganotosaurus lived in South America -- which were not connected millions of years ago.
Studies of the rock beds above and below the site where Giganotosaurus was discovered also reveal that the giant lived about 90 million year 25 million years before T rex.
FAB FACT Some paleontologists specialize in studying coprolites--fossilized dinosaur dung! The rare coprolites hold clues to a dino's diet and digestion.
FAB FACT Some plant-eating dinosaurs were much bigger than the meat eaters. Vegetarian dino Argentinosaurus weighed up to 90 tons more than Giganotosaurus.
FAB FACT Since we learn about dinosaurs only from fossils, nobody knows what color their skin was. Some scientists think dinos were brightly colored.
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|Title Annotation:||fossil of large dinosaur, Giganotosaurus carolinii, found|
|Date:||Dec 8, 1995|
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