Giganotosaurus (pronounced /ˌdʒaɪɡəˌnoʊtəˈsɔrəs/ jy-gə-noh-tə-sor-əs)[ is a genus of carcharodontosaurid dinosaur that lived around 97 million years ago during the early Cenomanian stage of the |Late Cretaceous Period. It included some of the largest known terrestrial carnivores. Its fossils have been found in Argentina.
The name means "giant southern lizard", derived from the Ancient Greek gigas/γίγας meaning "giant", notos/νότος meaning "south wind" and -saurus/-σαύρος meaning "lizard".
Discovery and species
Giganotosaurus carolinii was named for Ruben Carolini, an amateur fossil hunter who, in 1993, discovered the fossils in deposits of Patagonia (southern Argentina) in what is now considered the Candeleros Formation. The initial description was published by Rodolfo Coria and Leonardo Salgado in the journal Nature in 1995.
The holotype specimen's (MUCPv-Ch1) skeleton was about 70% complete and included the skull, pelvis, leg bones and most of the backbone. Various estimates find that it measured somewhere between 12.2 and 13 m (40 and 43 ft) in length, and between 6.5 and 13.3 tons in weight. A second, more fragmentary, specimen (MUCPv-95) has also been recovered. It is only known from a portion of the left dentary which is 8% larger than the equivalent bone from the holotype. This largest Giganotosaurus specimen is estimated to represent an individual with a skull length of 195 cm (6.40 ft), compared to the holotype's estimated at 1.80 m (5.9 ft) skull, making it likely that Giganotosaurus had the largest skull of any known theropod.
Giganotosaurus carolinii was slightly longer than Tyrannosaurus rex, but lighter. Its brain was also half the size of the tyrannosaur brain. The teeth of Tyrannosaurus were longer and wider, and more variable in size. The teeth of Giganotosaurus were shorter, less variable and narrower than those of Tyrannosaurus, and were more adapted for slicing flesh than the bone-crushing teeth of the T. rex. A well-developed olfactory region means that it probably had a good sense of smell. Its skull, although large, had a slender build. Giganotosaurus carolinii had three-fingered hands unlike the later Tyrannosaurus, who had two fingers, and had longer arms than the Tyrannosaurus. They may have been able to claw prey with their sharp hand claws, causing further injury and blood loss.
Titanosaur fossils have been recovered near the remains of Giganotosaurus, leading to speculation that these carnivores may have preyed on the giant herbivores. Fossils of related carcharodontosaurids grouped closely together may indicate pack hunting, a behavior that could possibly extend to Giganotosaurus itself. They were thought to have preyed on the massive Argentinosaurus, and may have formed said packs to take down the huge animals.
Blanco and Mazzetta (2001) estimated that Giganotosaurus might have been capable of running at speeds up to 14 metres per second (50 km/h; 31 mph), which was actually slow for a large theropod.
Giganotosaurus, along with relatives like Tyrannotitan, Mapusaurus and Carcharodontosaurus, are members of the carnosaur family Carcharodontosauridae. Both Giganotosaurus and Mapusaurus have been placed in their own subfamily Giganotosaurinae by Coria and Currie in 2006 as more carcharodontosaurid dinosaurs are found and described, allowing interrelationships to be calculated.
Giganotosaurus in The Land Before Time
- Main Article: Plated Sharptooth
A powerful Sharptooth, possibly a depiction of Giganotosaurus, appears in The Land Before Time V: The Mysterious Island. It is the main antagonist in the film, though it isn't introduced until well into the story.
In The Land Before Time, the possible depiction of Giganotosaurus isn't 100% accurate. It somewhat resembles a Tyrannosaurus and is about the same size, but is lime green in color and has "plates" along its back. But, it does however have three-fingered hands like the actual Giganotosaurus has. Other aspects that differ a Giganotosaurus from a Tyrannosaurus in The Land Before Time are its extra white teeth and claws, compared to the teeth and claws of a Tyrannosaurus, which, mostly, if not always, aren't as white. Giganotosaurus also has small ridges over its eyes and the pupils of its eyes are slits instead of circles.
It should be noted that it was depicted only three years after it was discovered and two years after it was described, so this could be the dinosaur's first appearance on a film. This could also explain as to why the Plated Sharptooth in the movie is not very accurate to an actual Giganotosaurus, as the mainstream media may not have known much, if anything at all, about what the Giganotosaurus actually looked like back in 1997.
The Giganotosaurus is shown to be far more menacing and dangerous than most other sharpteeth in the sequels. Though not completely up to the level of the original Sharptooth, he still shows a great amount of determination to pursue and eat the children, even though they would be of little nutritional value to him. This shows when he jumps a small gorge even after the log bridging the two cliffs had fallen, and later when he engages Chomper's parents. He also has the distinction of being the first character in the franchise to draw blood onscreen when he cuts the snout of Chomper's father and slashes the leg of Chomper's mother with his toe claws (the sequence of the original Sharptooth tearing into Littlefoot's mother's back doesn't count since it was shown as a shadow, though it was originally going to be shown in full). The second character was the Meanest Sharptooth, where he injures the Lone Dinosaur by cutting him down his neck, giving him a scar.
- ↑ Academy of Natural Sciences: Giganotosaurus
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Coria, R.A. and Currie, P.J. (2002). "Braincase of Giganotosaurus carolinii (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Upper Cretaceous of Argentina." Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 22(4): 802-811.
- ↑ Liddell & Scott (1980). Greek-English Lexicon, Abridged Edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. ISBN 0-19-910207-4.
- ↑ Coria RA & Salgado L (1995). A new giant carnivorous dinosaur from the Creataceous of Patagonia. Nature 377: 225-226
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Coria, R.A. and Currie, P.J. (2006). "A new carcharodontosaurid (Dinosauria, Theropoda) from the Upper Cretaceous of Argentina." Geodiversitas, 28(1): 71-118. pdf link
- ↑ Seebacher, F. 2001. A new method to calculate allometric length-mass relationships of dinosaurs. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 21(1): 51–60.
- ↑ Therrien, F.; and Henderson, D.M. (2007). "My theropod is bigger than yours...or not: estimating body size from skull length in theropods". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27 (1): 108–115.
- ↑ Calvo, J.O. and Coria, R.A. (1998) "New specimen of Giganotosaurus carolinii (Coria & Salgado, 1995), supports it as the largest theropod ever found." Gaia, 15: 117–122. pdf link
- ↑ Giganotosaurus By Sean Henahan, Access Excellence
- ↑ Blanco, R. Ernesto; Mazzetta, Gerardo V. (2001). "A new approach to evaluate the cursorial ability of the giant theropod Giganotosaurus carolinii". Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 46 (2): 193–202. http://www.app.pan.pl/article/item/app46-193.html.
- Giganotosaurus at DinoData.
- "What were the longest/heaviest predatory dinosaurs?" Mike Taylor. The Dinosaur FAQ. August 27, 2002.