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Amphicoelias fragillimus, the longest dinosaur

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Nature
 · 12 Jun 2024
Amphicoelias fragillimus, the longest dinosaur
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Dinosaurs are renowned for their colossal size, being among the largest creatures to ever roam the Earth. But just how massive were they? What holds the record for the largest animal to have ever lived on land?

Excluding marine species, for which precise measurements may remain elusive, the top spot for the longest land animal goes to Amphicoelias fragillimus, a Diplodocid dinosaur that roamed present-day Arizona around 150 million years ago.

Discovered in 1877, initially, a close relative measuring 25 meters in length was found, followed by the astonishing discovery of a 1.5-meter-long vertebra from an even more colossal creature. The discoverer, collector Oramel Lucas, was struck by the fragility of the fossilized vertebra, leading to the nickname "Fragillimus" for the newly found species. However, despite its name, Amphicoelias was far from fragile; the fossilization process had rendered its remains brittle. Recent in-depth analyses depict Amphicoelias as a robust creature capable of extraordinary physical feats.

Amphicoelias fragillimus, the longest dinosaur
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Measuring more than 60 meters in length, and possibly even stretching to 65-68 meters according to some paleontologists, this dinosaur dwarfed all its contemporaries. Weighing in at a staggering 122 tons, it was roughly twice the size of the blue whale, the largest animal on the planet today.

Amphicoelias inhabited a savannah-like environment, albeit different from what we know today: a humid savannah devoid of grass but teeming with bushes and various water bodies for drinking and cooling during the day. Scientists speculate that at night, these colossal creatures peacefully slumbered in the open on the savannah, as no predators, not even Tyrannosaurs, dared to challenge them. However, Amphicoelias doesn't hold the title of the heaviest dinosaur ever to exist; that honor goes to Bruhathkayosaurus, which tipped the scales at an astounding 220 tons.

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