It’s a top candidate for the biggest dinosaur to ever walk the earth. It’s commonly called the Supersaurus. Scientists call it Supersaurus vivianae. However, those same scientists are also involved in a roiling debate about which species of dinosaur can truly be called the largest animal to ever stomp across the earth.
Collectively, these enormous behemoths are called titanosaurs, taking the name from the ancient Greek giant-gods called the Titans.
One thing for sure – the Supersaurus was absolutely huge. It measured in at 111 feet from the tip of its nose to the tip of its tail. Its maximum height was 55 feet. It achieved that lofty height with the help of a neck that was 40 feet long.
But it’s the weight of Supersaurus that is perhaps the biggest challenge for the crown of undisputed champion for largest dinosaurs. Its estimated weight was 70,000 to 80,000 pounds. That’s 40 tons.
Yes, that’s a lot of dinosaur meat, but other contenders weighed a lot more. For example, the Argentinosaurus tips the scales at an almost unimaginable 110,000 to 220,000 earth-shaking pounds. That’s 55 to 110 tons – about the combined weight of a dozen Asian elephants.
By some estimates, Argentinosaurus might have been even longer than Supersaurus with a possible maxim length of 120 meters. Evidence suggests that Argentinosaurus may have stood 65 to 70 feet tall. If all these stats are accurate, Argentinosaurus beats out Supersaurus by a good margin. As it stands today, the Argentinosaurus probably holds the best claim of the largest dinosaur of all time.
The problem is that few scientists are confident in the measurements they have been able to make, which are only their best estimates. That’s because they are basing size calculations on just fragments. Only a small number of lower leg bones, neck bones, some ribs and the few other fossilized body parts of the Argentinosaurus that have been discovered. The same is true for the other species of titanosaur.
In addition to Supersaurus and Argentinosaurus, there are a handful of other species of titanosaur vying for the top spot. They include Puertasaurus, Dreadnoughtus, Ultrasaurus and Patagotitan.
For the record, the most complete specimen of titanosaurs is the Patagotitan. Scientists have partial fossil fragments of this species that number about 130 petrified bones. One of the most difficult fossils to find of a titanosaur is the skull. Only three have been found.
It’s important to note that scientists believe that not of these gigantic dinosaurs achieved such enormous size. Perhaps just a rare few lived long enough and enjoyed the right conditions to grow to such a massive scale. However, even the most average member of a titanosaur-class dinosaur family was still one incredibly large creature. It would make an elephant today look tiny by comparison.
All titanosaurs lived from 70 million to 100 million years ago. One of the best theories to explain their extinction – and all other dinosaurs – is a massive asteroid that smacked into the earth 65.5 million years ago. This is commonly called the K-T extinction event. The K-T refers to the Cretaceous-Tertiary period, the third part of the Cretaceous period which lasted from 145 million to 66 million years ago.
Supersaurus and its large brethren were plant-eaters, much like large species today, such as elephants, rhinos, hippos and cattle. They likely traveled in herds. They laid eggs to reproduce and likely did not guard their nests. Scientists believe the lifespan of a titanosaur was 100 years or longer.
To keep themselves fueled, estimates are the Supersaurus, Argentinosaurus and their titanosaur pals would be required to eat at least 1,500 tons of food every day.