Monday, December 20, 2010

Giganotosaurus Origins

The Giganotosaurus existed during the Turonian stage of the late cretaceous period about 90 million years ago. It was first discovered in 1995 in the Argentinean region of Patagonia at the Rio Limay Formation by Ruben Carolini. The meaning of the name stems from the Greek word ‘gigas’ meaning giant, ‘notos’ referring to the south and the term ‘saurus’ meaning lizard, giving us the ‘giant southern lizard’

As its name suggests the Giganotosaurus is considered by scientists to be the largest of the terrestrial carnivorous dinosaurs, even larger than the ferocious predator Tyrannosaurus Rex.


The Giganotosaurus was a member of the Carcharodauntosaurid dinosaurs who were a group of ultra large theropod dinosaurs. The Carcharodauntosaurid family contained some of the largest carnivorous predators of all time, apart from the Giganotosaurus other members included the Mapusaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, and the Tyrannotitan. The family to surpass the Carcharodauntosaurids in size were the Spinosaurids.

Physical Features

The Giganotosaurus was a mammoth sized carnivore which measured around 45 ft in length and weighed a little over 6 tonnes, surpassing the T. Rex by a small margin. Like most Theropods the Giganotosaurus had a prominently visible and large head and is believed to have possessed the longest skull among the various theropod dinosaurs.

With such a large skull there was space for a very well developed olfactory region suggesting an extremely sharp sense of smell. However it’s worth mentioning at this point that skull size isn’t everything, as despite the Giganotosaurus having a larger skull its brain was almost half the size of the Tyrannosaurus.

Now compared to the T. Rex whose teeth were ideal at snapping and cutting through bone, the Giganotosaurus had much smaller, narrower and more evenly sized teeth. This would have made them ideal for slicing flesh and leaving deep cuts in their victims as opposed to the bone crushing effect that the T. Rex had.

Behavioral Patterns & Hunting

Thanks to its size, scientists believe the Giganotorsaurs was more than capable of going after the super sized herbivores such as the Argentinosaurus and the Titanosaurus. In fact Titanosaur fossils were found extremely close to those of the Giganotosaurus making this an even higher possibility.

In terms of hunting style unlike the Tyrannosaurus who was a solitary hunter scientists believe the Giganotosaurus may well have been a pack hunter. The reason for this stems from the study of the other Carcharodauntosaurid dinosaurs whose fossils were often discovered in groups, indicating a collective hunting or herd like grouping. With the Giganotosaurus this is even more likely as going after the super sized herbivore giants would have been no easy task on ones own, but as a pack it may well have worked quite well.

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