The fossils of the earliest giant dinosaur have been discovered in the San Juan Province in Argentina. The dinosaur, named Ingentia prima, can be described as a four-legged herbivore up to 10 meters tall and weighing up to 10 tons. Living around 210 million years ago during the Triassic Period, it inhabited the Earth significantly earlier that any giant dinosaur known to science before this recent finding.
First known giant dinosaur to inhabit the Earth
Ingentia prima, which means “the first giant”, was one of the first members of the sauropod family, being a distant ancestor of the giant dinosaurs that appeared later on Earth, such as Dreadnoughtus, Argentinosaurus and Patagotitan, which could weight up to 70 tons. According to Cecilia Apaldetti, a paleontologist at the Universidad Nacional de San Juan and the lead author of the study published in the Nature Ecology & Evolution journal, the recently discovered dinosaur is the earliest known species exhibiting gigantism. Compared to the later sauropods, Ingentia prima did not have pillar-like legs and it also had a shorter neck.
Traits of gigantism can be seen in Ingentia prima
The gigantism amongst dinosaurs, whose first example has just been unearthed, was a strategy developed throughout the millions of years of evolution, especially in the herbivores, protecting them against most of the predators. Some of the features of gigantism can be seen in Ingentia prima, such as the development of air sacs inside of the reptile’s body, which allows it to stay cool and give it great reserves of air.
The first dinosaurs, who were rather small, appeared on Earth around 230 million years ago. Ingentia prima is regarded not only as the biggest dinosaur that graced the Earth before the end of the Triassic period, but also the biggest land animal up to that point in time.
Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca