The skeleton of one of the largest dinosaurs known to have inhabited the Earth, reconstructed from the fossil bones of six animals discovered in 2010 in Patagonia, will shortly go on display in the Natural History Museum in London.
It will be one of the largest exhibits to grace a British museum. In spring, the Natural History Museum in London will display the skeleton of a titanosaur, a creature so vast it will have to be shoehorned into the 9-metre-high Waterhouse gallery.
One of the most massive creatures ever to have walked on Earth, Patagotitan mayorum was a 57-tonne behemoth that would have shaken the ground as it stomped over homelands which now form modern Patagonia. Its skeleton is 37 metres long, and 5 metres in height – significantly larger than the museums most famous dinosaur, Dippy the diplodocus, which used to loom over its main gallery.
Patagotitan mayorum lived about 100 million years ago, during the late Cretaceous period, near the end of the dinosaurs’ reign on Earth. It was one of the three or four biggest species of titanosaur now known to science.
As with all discoveries in science, it raises new questions.
Several mysteries still surround Patagotitan mayorum, however. “You find remains of big dinosaurs in many places but in Patagonia you get ones that are absolutely massive, like titanosaurs,” Barrett said. “So was there something special about the ecology of the region at this time or have we just been unlucky so far in not finding titanosaur remains elsewhere?”
It is also not clear why the six animals died so close together. “They were all almost fully grown and died at the same site,” Marron said. “But why? What could have done that? It is not clear, though the mystery gives an extra dimension to the story of these wonderful animals.”
When I read such fascinating news stories, I often wonder how deniers in evolution or an old Earth react to them. Do they choose not to read them? Or do they read them and dismiss them as the work of scientists who are colluding to present a false picture to the faithful? It must be exhausting to constantly have to work to preserve a worldview that is constantly being undermined by new evidence. It must be like being Bucky Katt.