David Attenborough is to unveil the biggest dinosaur ever to have lived, the 37m-long and 70- tonne titanosaur. The creature – the biggest animal ever to have walked the Earth – will be described in the BBC programme, Attenborough And The Giant Dinosaur.
Titanosaur, which would have measured same as four London buses end to end, was discovered on a farm in the Argentinian desert two years ago, when the tip of a massive fossil was spotted sticking out of the ground. Excavation revealed a thigh bone measuring 2.4m in length. After just one day of digging, palaeontologists from the Egidio Feruglio Paleontology Museum had uncovered more than 220) bones.
The fossils belonged to seven dinosaurs of the same new species – dubbed the titanosaur. The creature was a plant-eater and lived during the Cretaceous Period, between 66 and 145 million years ago. The titanosaurs discovered are believed to be around 101.6 million years old.
Further analysis showed the seven specimens would have been young adults, meaning they had not fully grown – adults would have been even bigger than those discovered. Scientists estimate it was around 10% bigger than Argentinosaurs, which currently holds the record for being the world's biggest dinosaur.
Researchers believe its heart would have been around 2m in circumference and could have pushed 90 litres of blood around in one beat. It would have eaten the equivalent of a skip full of food every day. What killed the seven specimens uncovered is unknown while 80 carnivore teeth were also found at the same site.
Dr Diego Pol, lead scientist on the excavation, said: "It was like a paleontological crime scene, a unique thing that you don't find anywhere else in the world with the potential of discovering all kinds of new facts about titanosaurs. According to our estimates this animal weighed 70 tons. A comparison of the back bones shows that this animal was 10% larger than Argentinosaurus, the previous record holder. So we have discovered the largest dinosaur ever known."
Giant titanosaurs are rare, making the find exceptional. Some of the bones uncovered weighed over half a tonne making moving them extremely difficult. The BBC programme looks at the events following the initial discovery, documentation of the excavation, cleaning and examination of the new species. It also reveals what the creature might have looked like and how its internal structure would have worked.
Attenborough And The Giant Dinosaur will be shown on BBC1 on 24 January at 6.30pm.