The word titan means “giant” after the titans, who were created by Uranus and Gaia in Greek mythology. Now imagine an animal whose name means “giant giraffe.” That’s the Giraffatitan.
- Giraffatitan was a sauropod (long-neck) dinosaur that lived during the late Jurassic 150 million years ago.
- This animal is one of the largest land animals to ever live, growing 85 feet long from tail to nose.
- Giraffatitan had a very long neck and long front legs, similar to a giraffe.
- It used its long neck to reach leaves high in treetops.
- This dinosaur had chisel-shaped front teeth, but no back teeth. Like most sauropods, it probably swallowed clumps of leaves whole.
- Some sauropods could rear up on their back legs, but not Giraffatitan. Its neck and front legs were heavy and its center of gravity was at the front of its body.
- The skull of Giraffatitan puzzles scientists because it has two nostrils high on the forehead. These nostrils form a crest.
- Scientists wonder why the nostrils are so high. At first, they thought that this dinosaur lived in the water and its nostrils allowed it to get air while most of its body and head was submerged.
- Then they wondered if perhaps Giraffatitan had a trunk like an elephant. They finally decided that wasn’t likely. Scientists are still trying to unravel this mystery.
- Giraffatitan used to be lumped with Brachiosaurus. More recent discoveries have shown that the animals are two different dinosaurs.
Questions and Answers
Question: Why do scientists change their minds?
Answer: It’s very rare to find a complete fossilized dinosaur skeleton so scientists have to make their best guess based on the information they have. As they get new information, they sometimes change their theories.
Read more about this dinosaur’s name change.