A recent finding in Argentina might completely change the way we think about the evolution of dinosaurs. The oldest giant dinosaur known to science has been uncovered, being around three times bigger than the second largest reptile that lived in the Triassic period.
The discovery that changes what we know about the evolution of dinosaurs
Weighing up to nine tones, the recently uncovered Ingentia prima lived around 25 million years earlier than the oldest giant species the paleontologists knew about before. According to Cecilia Apaldetti, the lead author of the study and a scientist at the University of San Juan, it was believed that the gigantism amongst dinosaurs first appeared some 180 million years ago, in the Jurassic period. However, Ingentia prima inhabited the Earth in the late Triassic period, somewhere between 210 and 205 million years ago. Gigantism evolved in most of the dinosaurs, especially herbivores, providing them with protection against carnivores.
Ingentia prima and its growing cycle
In the study published in Nature, the scientists describe the dinosaur as a four-legged herbivore. Ingentia prima, which can be translated as “first giant”, grew cyclically, having stretches of time with fast growth and similar periods of time when it wouldn’t grow at all. This way of growing was widespread amongst the dinosaurs of that era, but excluding Ingentia prima, no other species reached more than three meters in length while weighting around 1.8 tones.
Light bone structure
Another feature confirmed by the researchers is the dinosaur’s light bone structure. The pneumatic cavities found in bones were lowering the weight of Ingentia prima, allowing it to grow faster and easier. The well-developed air sacs and perfectly working breathing system were highly important in the process of cooling the dinosaur’s body.
Even though Ingentia prima looks tiny compared to the giants of the Cretaceous period, it can be used as an example showing the great scale of dinosaurs’ evolution.