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33-meter long dinosaur, bigger than King Kong, unearthed in Argentina

An artist’s imagining of Ingentia fine. (Credit: Jorge A. González)

In the original “Jurassic Park” movie, Jeff Goldblum’s character, Dr. Ian Malcolm says: “What do they have in there, King Kong?”, a reference to the size of the dinosaurs in the park. As the fictional park had recorded Ingentia fine, Dr. Malcolm would not be thinking big enough.

Fossils of newly discovered Ingentia fine (which means “big cousin”) have been unearthed in Argentina. The animal is thought to have lived more than 200 million years ago, and that makes it one of the first dinosaurs to walk the Earth, according to the USGS.

“He was huge,” said lead researcher Dr. Cecilia Apaldetti, in the comments obtained by The Daily Mail. “It was at least twice as large as the other herbivores of the time.”

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The discovery is also important, because it marks the first sign of “gigantism” seen in the dinosaurs, some 30 million years earlier than previously thought, the researchers wrote in the newspaper, that is published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

“Although the origins of gigantism in the indicate that was an important moment in the history of the dinosaurs, an incomplete fossil record hides the details of this crucial evolutionary change,” Dr. Apaldetti and the other researchers explain in the study.

The fossil was found along the remains of three previously identified dinosaurs, known as Lessemsaurus sauropoides. It was discovered in the northwest of the argentine province of San Juan.

The researchers estimate that Ingentia fine, a relative of Diplodocus, one of the best-known sauropods, was 33 metres long, 14 metres high and weighed about 10 tons. Other well-known sauropods are Brachiosaurus, prominent in the “Jurassic Park” movies.

For comparison, the original version of “King Kong” was somewhere between 18 metres and 60 metres high, depending on the scene, according to The New York Post.

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Dr. Apaldetti and her team noted that “the combination of well-developed pneumatic structures in the cervical vertebrae of Ingentia is unique among the Sauropodomorpha.” The dinosaur is the bone structure shows that her limbs were bent, as opposed to the line or trunk. They also grew in small, intense spurts, thus reaching the final size.

Ingentia great lived during the Late Triassic period, around what is now known as South America (particularly Argentina), about 210 million years ago.

Dr. Apaldetti added that prior to the discovery of Ingentia fine, “was believed to be the first giants to inhabit the Earth originated during the Jurassic approximately 180 million years ago. But with this discovery we can take the first steps in the direction of gigantism occurred 30 million years before the giants dominated almost the entire planet.”

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

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