Patagotitan means “Patagonia titan.” Patagonia is a place in Argentina, which is where this dinosaur lived. And titan means giant, which is definitely an understatement.
- Patagotitan was one of the largest land animals ever to live, measuring 122 feet long, although scientists have never discovered a fully grown specimen so it might have been even bigger.
- Argentinasaurus was also a really huge dinosaur that lived in the same area. Scientists think the Patagotitan was the longer of the two, but Argentinasaurus was bulkier.
- Both dinosaurs were sauropod (long-neck) dinosaurs, but they were also titanosaurs, which means they survived until the end of the Mesozoic Era, long after other sauropods had died out.
- Patagotitan lived in the early Cretaceous, 101 million years ago.
- This dinosaur presents several puzzles for scientists. First, why was it so big? Was it so large to escape predators? It probably didn’t need to be as big as it was to scare off predators. Was there something about the environment that allowed it to grow so big? Imagine how much an animal that size would need to eat every day! Scientists just aren’t sure.
- Even more puzzling, the Patagotitan wasn’t the only huge dinosaur living in this area at this time. How did all these giants live together without competing for food? And why were they so big? What was the advantage?
- Carrying around such a large body demanded some special adaptations. The Patagotitan had hollow bones filled with air chambers, similar to birds. These air chambers made its couch-size bones lighter so it could move. The air chambers were connected to the respiratory system, allowing oxygen to move throughout the body.
Questions and Answers
Question: Any other puzzles about the Patagotitan?
Answer: Yep. Paleontologists discovered six skeletons in the same area. The animals died years apart, causing scientists to wonder what it was about that area that drew the dinosaurs to it. Maybe it was a river bed that dried up during drought seasons. Scientists still have lots to learn about this giant.
Watch a video about the Patagotitan.