|Name Meaning||Argentine lizard||Height||7.3 meters (24 feet)|
|Pronunciation||Ar-gen-teen-oh-sore-us||Length||30-35 meters (98-115 feet)|
|Era||Mesozoic – Late Cretaceous||Weight||55,000-110,000 kg (55-110 tons)|
|Classification||Dinosauria, Saurischia, & Sauropoda||Location||Argentina|
Having been one of the largest and heaviest creatures that ever walked on Earth, the Argentinosaurus is now a major genus in the world of science.
It is not of interest only to paleontologists.
Many other scientists have focused their studies on its appearance and lifestyle.
Its musculoskeletal system is of particular significance as it sheds light on how such structures work in other vertebrates.
Would you believe us if we told you that studying Argentinosaurus legs could lead to breakthrough discoveries in robotics?
That’s just how important this creature is!
The Argentinosaurus was a quadrupedal herbivore with a long neck and tail.
It existed for roughly 4 million years, between 96 and 92 million years ago, during the Late Cretaceous.
It has been long debated whether it’s the largest terrestrial creature our world has ever known, but the lack of a complete skeleton makes an accurate answer impossible.
Despite this, scientists successfully discovered other curious facts about the Argentinosurus, so do not hesitate to keep reading!
The Argentinosaurus is most famous for being a giant! And it was indeed a giant, even among large sauropods!
However, since the genus is known from incomplete remains, the size estimations remain only estimations, as there’s no way for scientists to provide dinosaur enthusiasts with a 100% accurate length or weight number.
After all, this shouldn’t be surprising, as the study of our world’s prehistory is full of assumptions and speculation!
So how large was the Argentinosaurus?
One of the first reconstructions of this creature was done by Gregory Paul in 1994.
This American paleontological researcher illustrated the Argentinosaurus as measuring 30-35 meters (98.4-114.8 feet) long.
Some later studies and reconstructions argued for 30 meters (98.4 feet) long.
In 2013, some researchers concluded that the Argentinosaurus was much larger, measuring 39.7 meters (130.2 feet) long and having a height of 7.3 meters (24 feet) at the shoulder.
Imagine that only the femur (thigh bone) of the Argentinosaurus was 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) long, which is more than a king-size bed!
The holotype fibula (calf bone) was 1.55 meters (5.1 feet) long.
When put together, they’d make a leg approximately 4 meters (13.1 feet) long.
The weight was estimated at 80-100 metric tons (88-110 short tons), although it was later reduced to 60-88 metric tons (66-97 short tons), with the average being 73 metric tons (80.4 short tons).
Other studies suggested similar numbers, ranging from 50 to 100 metric tons (55-110 short tons).
Since there’s no way to confirm its size, whether the Argentinosaurus was the largest titanosaur remains unknown.
Other members of the Lognkosauria clade (including the Argentinosaurus) were just as large and heavy.
The Futalognkosaurus, for example, was likely 30 meters (98.4 feet) long, although it may have weighed less than the Argentinosaurus – roughly 38-50 metric tons (short tons).
The same is valid for the Patagotitan, which was estimated to have had a length of 30-40 meters (98.4-131.2 feet) and a weight of 50-80 metric tons (55-88 short tons).
No wonder the Lognkosauria clade is renowned for hosting some of the heaviest and largest dinosaurs ever to walk on our planet.
Like other sauropods, the Argentinosaurus had a long neck and tail.
It also had unusually robust neck neural spines and wide rib cages.
The trunk was likely approximately 7 meters (23 feet) long, which is remarkably long even for large sauropods.
Habitat and Distribution
The few discovered Argentinosaurus fossils were found in Argentina, in the Province of Neuquén.
The locality is now known as the Huincul Formation of the Rio Limay Subgroup, which, in turn, is part of the Neuquén Group.
This formation was likely an arid ecosystem during the Late Cretaceous when the Argentinosaurus was alive.
It was probably filled with either seasonal or ephemeral streams.
It consists of greenish and yellowish sandstones deposited as a drainage system of a braided fluvial system, meaning a network of river channels separated by islands.
Despite being considered a somewhat arid ecosystem, the Huincul Formation was likely more humid than the Candeleros Formation.
The Huincul Formation supported the growth of plants like liverworts, ferns, hornworts, gymnosperms, and angiosperms.
Behavior and Diet
Since the Argentinosaurus was such a giant, you’re probably wondering how it moved, foraged, and how fast it was, right?
It must have required a lot of energy to walk around, let alone run.
Scientists believe their necks were long precisely to save energy and limit whole-body movements.
The large size and long necks allowed these creatures to feed on various types of vegetation, especially those that weren’t accessible to other herbivores.
The lack of mastication only improved the energy-efficient feeding technique.
Sauropods are also thought to have been able to store food inside their digestive tract for longer periods of time.
This would have limited the time spent foraging and protected them against predators.
Although it had an efficient feeding technique, the Argentinosaurus was likely a slow-moving dinosaur.
A study based on a computer simulation using an 80-tonne dinosaur showed that it probably reached a top speed of only 7.2 km/h (5 mph).
Another major dilemma regarding the giant sauropods is their neck posture.
How exactly did the Argentinosaurus hold its remarkably long neck? Was it kept vertically, horizontally, or bent upward or downward?
Many sauropod illustrations show them keeping their necks up, but many scientists questioned this portrayal, suggesting that such a posture would increase demands on the heart.
Unfortunately, an accurate solution to this dilemma is lacking until future findings.
Like all dinosaurs, sauropods, including the Argentinosaurus, reproduced by laying eggs.
Luckily for scientists and dinosaur enthusiasts, titanosaurs’ reproductive behavior, particularly the nesting behavior, is relatively well-known thanks to the large nesting ground discovered in Patagonia, Argentina, which is thought to have belonged to saltasaurines.
Presumably, the females dug holes in the ground with their hind legs, where they laid the eggs, then buried them with vegetation and dirt.
The eggs were laid in clutches, which consisted of approximately 25 eggs.
They were quite small, measuring approximately 11-12 centimeters (4.3-4.7 inches) in diameter.
Other localities revealed eggs and clutches belonging to another remarkable titanosaur, Hypselosaurus.
These findings further shed light on these creatures’ reproductive and nesting behaviors.
They were much larger than the eggs discovered in Argentina, measuring approximately 25 centimeters (9.84 inches) in length and being 5 liters (1.32 US gallons) in volume.
Although no Argentinosaurus nesting grounds were found, scientists assume that at least some of the details they discovered about other titanosaurs may be applied to this genus.
Some scientists estimate that the eggs were approximately 1 liter in volume.
You’re probably wondering how these giants hatched from such small eggs, right?
Well, the truth is, sauropod hatchlings were unusually small.
Argentinosaurus juveniles didn’t exceed 1 meter (3.3 feet) long and 5 kilograms (11 pounds) in weight.
Moreover, they are considered precocial, meaning they could fend for themselves after hatching.
Scientists concluded this based on the number of eggs and clutches, stating that the parents could not have cared for so many hatchlings, so they must have been able to care for themselves.
That’s why the mortality rate was probably higher during their first 20 or 30 years until they reached sexual maturity.
Despite being hatched quite small, Argentinosaurus and other sauropod juveniles developed and grew rapidly and probably became sexually mature before reaching their maximum size.
Evolution and History
The Argentinosaurus is part of the Titanosauria clade, which includes some of the most dominant sauropods of the Cretaceous.
Titanosaurs are now widely recognized as closely related to euhelopodids (Euhelopodidae) and brachiosaurids (Brachiosauridae).
However, when the Argentinosaurus was discovered and described (in 1993), the Titanosauria hadn’t yet existed.
Instead, the titanosaurs were part of the Titanosauridae family, while the Argentinosaurus was placed in the Andesauridae.
Afterward, the Titanosauridae and the Andesauridae families were united into a higher group called Titanosauria, where the Argentinosaurus now holds a more basal position.
Further down the taxonomic tree, the Argentinosaurus is found in the Lognkosauria clade, which includes other large titanosaurs like the Futalognkosaurus and the Patagotitan.
This clade has been defined as comprising the most recent common ancestor of Futalognkosaurus and Mendozasaurus.
If we go back to when the Argentinosaurus was discovered, we arrive in 1987, in Neuquén Province, when Guillermo Heredia discovered a calf bone on his farm.
He then informed the Museo Carmen Funes about this and welcomed its staff members to excavate the bone.
Two years later, paleontologists organized an expedition to the site and found several other skeletal remains belonging to the same creature.
These fossils would become the holotype of the Argentinosaurus genus and its only species, Argentinosaurus huinculensis.
Interactions with Other Species
The Huincul Formation was unusually rich in titanosaurian sauropods, so the Argentinosaurus probably was not the only giant roaming through prehistoric Argentina.
The Choconsaurus and the Chucarosaurus were some titanosaurians sharing their habitat with the Argentinosaurus, although they were likely slightly smaller than the famous Argentine lizard.
Rabbechisaurid sauropods were also quite common and included the Limayasaurus and the Cathartesaura.
The Argentinosaurus likely crossed paths with the numerous theropods living in the area. Here are some:
Other dinosaurs were iguanodonts, abelisaurids, and hadrosaurids.
Despite its gigantism, the Argentinosaurus served as prey to hungry carnivorous theropods.
If anything, their large body size made them even more vulnerable to predation because it reduced their ability to move fast.
One theropod known to have preyed upon the giant Argentinosaurus is the Mapusaurus.
It was a large carnivore, measuring 11-12.2 meters (36-40 feet) long and weighing five metric tons (5.5 short tons).
It was a ferocious predator that most likely hunted alongside other theropods, which is why it could feed on giant sauropods.
A single Mapusaurus probably could not kill an Argentinosaurus unless the sauropod was injured or the circumstances favored the theropod.
The Huincul Formation was rich in turtles, squamates, crocodilians, and spehnodonts.
Besides serving as a starting point for describing other sauropods and as the main subject for numerous scientific studies, the Argentinosaurus is quite a popular dinosaur among enthusiasts!
Its gigantism undoubtedly played an important role in this!
It is now portrayed in numerous books and documentaries about dinosaurs.
The Argentinosaurus is also a character in Jurassic World: The Game and Jurassic World: Alive.
You know where to look if you want to see it in motion!
Just don’t forget that media depictions may sometimes be inaccurate.
The Argentinosaurus is one of the world’s largest terrestrial creatures, reaching remarkable lengths of 30-35 meters (98-115 feet) and weighing 50-100 metric tons (55-110 short tons).
This large titanosaurian sauropod lived roughly 96-92 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous and shared its habitat with other giants in prehistoric Argentina.
Carnivorous theropods were also quite common on the territory.
At first thought, one may think the Argentinosaurus was unbeatable, and not even the strongest theropods could kill this giant.
But precisely, its large size served as a disadvantage, as it limited this creature’s range of movements and slowed it down, thus increasing the risk of predation.
What dinosaur is bigger than Argentinosaurus?
Since many dinosaur size estimations haven’t been fully confirmed yet, it would be impossible to state which dinosaur was larger than the Argentinosaurus, if any.
It is thought that the Bruhathkayosaurus exceeded 35 meters (115 feet) long, reaching at most 47 meters (154.2 feet), but, as we’ve stated, these numbers are only estimations.
The Patagotitan is another large sauropod that may have grown larger than the Argentinosaurus, reaching 37 meters (121.3 feet) long.
Can an Argentinosaurus beat a T-Rex?
If the circumstances favor the Argentinosaurus, it can definitely beat a T-Rex, not because of its defensive adaptations but rather because of its large size and enormous weight.
However, the Argentinosaurus is known to be preyed upon by carnivorous theropods, and many studies show that its large size often serves as a disadvantage against predation.
Hence, Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaurs undoubtedly have a chance against the giant sauropod.