Titanosaurs were the undisputed giants of the Cretaceous. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.5 Gerhard Boeggemann
A 70-ton titanosaur has been officially established as the largest land animal ever to walk the Earth.
This gargantuan plant-eater, which roamed the planet around 100 million years ago when global temperatures were much higher than they are today, was so large and heavy that it weighed the equivalent of twelve Asian elephants and measured 122ft from head to tail.
Its remains were discovered in 2012 after ranch worker Aurelio Hernandez came across a number of fossils in Patagonia, Argentina. The ranch's owner, Oscar Mayo, quickly realized that they were dinosaurs and invited a team of palaeontologists to come and examine them.
It took a total of 18 months for the fossils to be extracted from the site.
Incredibly, the haul included fossils from six individuals, none of which being fully grown, suggesting that there could be other, much larger, specimens still out there, just waiting to be discovered.
"There is no doubt that [the Titanosaur] was pushing at the upper limits of body size, and it will be interesting to see what adaptations it developed to cope with all of the pressures that went with being so big, [such as] acquiring enough food [and] finding a mate," said palaeontologist Stephen Poropat.