This past weekend Steve and I got to do something special together. We went to the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, and it was glorious. I wanted to share some photos I took of the star exhibit, in the sunlit central atrium of the museum, called Giants of the Mesozoic. (click the link for better close-up photos)
In the above pic you will see the head and neck of Argentinosaurus. Our museum contains the first fully mounted specimen of one of the largest dinosaurs ever classified! Some individuals of this species of sauropod(the dinosaur family that has the long necks, long tails, small heads and four column-like legs)may have measured over 100 feet from head to tail and weighed north of 100 tons.
It’s just so huge I can’t get it all in the photo.
I’m standing right between the massive, column-like forelegs here.
Absolutely stunning. I turn into a five-year old again at the sight of these specimens.
When the first and only remains of Argentinosaurus were dug up, they were near the fossils of another huge dinosaur–the carnivorous theropod Giganotosaurus. Here’s Uncle Steve with the skeleton of the other giant. For a time, until Spinosaurus entered the scene, Giganotosaurus was the king of kings, topping even Tyrannosaurus in size, even if only slightly.
In this recreated scene, the Giganotosaurus is following along behind the Argentinosaurus and is probably hoping to make some slashes in its legs or underbelly. Some estimates propose that this dinosaur had a bite force several times weaker than that of Tyrannosaurus,which suggests Giganotosaurus may have hunted by inflicting slicing wounds instead of biting — a tactic that would have allowed it to take down very large prey that it couldn’t have gotten its jaws around. But whether or not the carnivores took down their giant prey alone is unclear; they possibly hunted such huge prey in packs.
Better watch that tail, though–not only did the size of a full-grown Argentinosaurus make it almost immune to predation, but it may also have used a common sauropod weapon– lashing its long, whip-like tail to deliver lethal blows to predators.