for National Geographic News
The third largest dinosaur fossil ever found has been unearthed in the Patagonia region of Argentina by a team of Brazilian and Argentine paleontologists.
The fossil represents a new dinosaur species dating back 90 million years, and it is among the most complete ever found of a large dino, the scientists said.
Whereas scientists usually find only 10 percent of a dinosaur's skeleton, the newfound specimen is 70 percent complete.
The giant herbivore measured 105 to 111 feet (32 to 34 meters) long, stood as tall as a four-story building, and weighed 60 to 70 tons.
Researchers named the dinosaur Futalognkosaurus dukei, the first name meaning "giant chief of the dinosaurs" in the Mapuche language, and the second being a nod to the Duke Energy Corporation, a sponsor of the excavation.
While researchers exult in the dino discovery, the site's greatest find lies in its diverse mix of fossils unearthed with the giant dinosaur, said Alexander Kellner of Brazil's National Museum.
"What's most exciting is to have all these fossils in one spot," Kellner said. "It allows us to reconstruct an ecosytem from the Upper Cretaceous period [from 66 million to 100 million years ago]."
The area has a lot more to offer, he added. At a nearby site the team has found another dinosaur, probably also a Futalognkosaurus, even larger than the one unveiled this week.
"It's not close to complete," Kellner said. "It was found scattered and decomposed before being buried. We still have our homework to do there."
The research was led by Jorge Calvo, director of the Paleontology Center of Argentina's Comahue National University.
Dino Could Be "Largest Ever"
SOURCES AND RELATED WEB SITES