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Paleo-King's avatar

The Biggest - Puertasaurus reuili

Scale diagram of Puertasaurus reuili, the largest of the titanosaurs and possibly the most massive dinosaur yet known. This image is a collaborative work [link] between myself and the incredibly talented Chris Masna: [link]

Based on my revised Puertasaurus schematic. Check out the original here: [link] . I also provided advice, source info and the phylogeny. Dr. Fernando Novas and colleagues described the actual dinosaur :XD:
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69 million years ago, nice.

anomally's avatar
When you can't grow any bigger lengthwise you go sideways and this is probably taking it to the extreme. I always wondered why did them titanosaurs grow so wide, perhaps they're semi aquatic and the wide torso would help them float much easier from getting to places like a mobile island.
Paleo-King's avatar
They seem to have gotten wide due to needing a longer and more efficient digestion, either because of changes in the cretaceous plants (i.e. more toxic?) or as a response to more extreme seasons and more volatile food supply. Funny thing is, we don't know how much longer they could have gotten. The Puertasaurus holotype probably wasn't even the longest.

The mobile island theory is tempting but probably off. Titanosaur legs and feet get more robust in their evolution just as their bodies do. These animal's limbs were evolving to support more mass for their length, so judging by their skeletons, they were not becoming aquatic in any sense. Other sauropods probably didn't have any trouble floating even with a slimmer body. None of them were semi-aquatic, but all were capable of floating and swimming - elephants can swim just fine, and sauropods had more attachment points for limb muscles, so likely more precise movements. The overall density of sauropods was, ton for ton, less than most other animals because of all the air sacs in their bones. This was true of brachiosaurs, diplodocoids, mamenchisaurs, etc. just as it was for titanosaurs.
anomally's avatar
Nice explanation Paleo. I just can't fathom how comically large some of the largest Puertasaurus specimens were. Their legs must been super robust and strong i order to even stand up carrying over a hundred ton of weight. I somewhat feel sorry for this kind of animal to carry this amount of stress everyday in their lives. 
paleosir's avatar
It very well may have weighed ~55 - 60 tonnes instead of 110 tonnes.
shockaLocKer's avatar
You called a hummingbird a dinosaur and also added R2-D2

Dunno if you're serious anymore <_>
Paleo-King's avatar
Chris Masna actually did that part. I designed the Puertasaurus.

Also, hummingbirds are dinosaurs by definition, as all birds are highly derived theropods from the coelurosaur line.
shockaLocKer's avatar
Oh I'm perfectly aware birds came from dinosaurs. I'm just worried of a world where everyone calls them dinosaurs and the word 'bird' is completely forgotten.

Also, hummingbird.
TheDubstepAddict's avatar
Shrink wrapping. Not. Even. Once.
Evodolka's avatar
truly one of the most magnificent beasts that has ever existed :)
kingspacegodzilla94's avatar
Llama Emoji-09 (Drinking Tea) [V1] I enjoy your work so much, Seriously I Heart love all your work its fantastic keep it up Thumbs up okay 
Paleo-King's avatar
Thanks very much! :D
kingspacegodzilla94's avatar
kistrix's avatar
Amazing reference, no matter how much they tell you "he weighs so much, the measures are such.." you can´t get a grasp until you see a realistic reference like this one.
y87arrow's avatar
18m tall? That's incredible, even by Sauropod standards. Which other sauropod comes close there besides Sauroposeidon? Always fascinating to see the height of such big dinosaurs (not only the length).
Dontknowwhattodraw94's avatar
This thing is huge, bigger than Agentinosaurus right? But even Argentinosaurus had enemies like Giganotosaurus, how is this with Puertasaurus? Giganotosaurus was already gone and Tyrannosaurus didn't exist yet (or at least didn't live in the same place). What could 've been the opponement of him?
Dontknowwhattodraw94's avatar
Ah okay, thanks a lot for the information :)
TheReawakeningSeries's avatar
Great stuff here! I'm such a big fan of your work Nima, keep it up!

However something has always itched at me. How valid is Amphicoelias? And wasn't it the largest specimen so far, being only based on a vertabrae? Tell me your thoughts, please.
Paleo-King's avatar
Amphicoelias is totally valid - in the sense of it being a valid genus with valid type material. However the type material (Amphicoelias altus) is from an animal no bigger than Diplodocus.

Amphicoelias fragillimus, the near-mythical giant vertebra that got lost, was only about 40% of the vertebra (if the published drawing can be believed) but based on that a 2m+ tall reconstruction has been drawn for the full bone by both Cope and Ken Carpenter.

For being a bone that no longer exists, it's definitely extremely popular. But the fact is, this isn't the biggest dinosaur we have currently existing fossil proof for. If more bones are ever found, it may actually need its own genus separate from Amphicoelias, the proportions are a bit different from A. altus, but not enough to definitively erect a new genus. The problem with this animal is not so much its validity (the bone is no longer around to analyze) but the fact that it's so poorly documentes (a single paper from Cope, and it isn't even the main focus of the paper). Cope could have made a scaling error, or a typo. The discovery was so obscure that for nearly a century nobody paid it any attention in major paleo-journals. So the real issue is that it wasn't really a big deal until the 1990s (and until the 1980s even PhDs thought there was nothing bigger than Brachiosaurus, despite larger and more massive sauropods (some still as yet undescribed) being known from Argentina since the 1920s (and possibly even since the late 1800s).

That said, there are some footprints scattered around the planet that could have been made by an A. fragillimus-sized creature. None of them are in the Morrison, but that doesn't rule out their discovery. But when you scale off of footprints, you really run into some serious problems. Unless you can scale a bigger animal from the same family off of bones, I'd avoid scaling from footprints, just don't do it! There's too much margin of error either way, either from splaying of the heel pads, or conversely from prints with caved-in edges that are too eroded to tell if they caved in. (for Breviparopus, I kept in mind that "Brachiosaurus" nougaredi can actually be scaled to a larger size based on a pretty huge partial sacrum, so Breviparopus is not a record-breaker even in Brachiosauridae - or even if you put it in another family.)
TheReawakeningSeries's avatar
Thanks for the answer!
MartinSilvertant's avatar
Very nice texturing of the skin. It's interesting how the blue whale is still so much larger in total mass, and yet this Puertasaurus reuili is so much more impressive to me, simply because it's a land creature. Quite possible just because I'm not familiar with such a large land creature; it's nice to fantasize about.

I've always wondered two things which somewhat relate to your illustration. Perhaps you can answer my questions. Firstly, with so many creatures of the same species and millions of years of evolution and intermediate fossils, how is it possible that we manage to complete such few skeletons? Shouldn't these skeletons be scattered all over? Are they not preserved, unreachable or simply just not discovered yet? I also wondered how the blue whale can be the biggest creature that has ever lived, even compared to an era in which most of the creatures were a lot bigger than they are now. I'm not questioning the validity of that statement, but I do wonder why the blue whale got to grow to this size now and not millions of years ago. Do you think it has to do with carnivorous sea creatures being a lot bigger back then? Because the only natural animals of blue whales are killer whales.
SpinoInWonderland's avatar
The average blue whale is less than 65 tonnes in mass, it's not larger at all than Puertasaurus.


Blue whales were nowhere near the actual largest animal that ever lived title.

The problem is that people commonly take the largest specimens as the only figures while ignoring the plethora of more average specimens.
MartinSilvertant's avatar
Oh I failed to take into consideration that the numbers I saw on the blue whale are on the high end of the scale, while the numbers on Puertasaurus are probably more like averages. Still, according to the sources I've read the blue whale is still the largest animal to have ever lived. Apparently a blue whale can be up to 170 tonnes, which is about 60 tonnes more than the largest dinosaurs I've read about. In terms of length or height certainly there are "bigger" animals, but in terms of weight I haven't encountered anything more massive than the blue whale. I do thank you for alerting me to the fact that it's obviously not right to compare an average animal with an unusually big one as I did though. I'm not saying there wouldn't have been more massive Puertasauruses than blue whales, but I'm not aware of statistics to properly compare the blue whale to the genuinely biggest dinosaur. The blue whale still seems to be huge, even compared to other dinosaurs though. That fact alone leaves me with several questions, like why gigantism doesn't seem as prominent now as it was, and if the blue whale can be considered to be the maximum size for marine animals. Because I don't think I've encountered larger or comparable marine animals.
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