Giraffatitan, meaning "giant giraffe", is a genus of sauropod dinosaur that lived during the late Jurassic Period. It was originally named as an African species of Brachiosaurus (B. brancai). Giraffatitan is one of the largest animals known to have walked the earth.


Giraffatitan was a sauropod, one of a group of four-legged, plant-eating dinosaurs with long necks and tails and relatively small brains. It had a giraffe-like build, with long forelimbs and a very long neck. The skull had a tall arch anterior to the eyes, consisting of the bony nares, a number of other openings, and "spatulate" teeth (resembling chisels). The first toe on its front foot and the first three toes on its hind feet were clawed.

Traditionally, the distinctive high-crested skull has been seen as a characteristic of the genus Brachiosaurus to which Giraffatitan brancai was originally referred, but because within the traditional Brachiosaurus material it is known only from Tanzanian specimens now assigned to Giraffatitan, it is possible that Brachiosaurus altithorax did not show this feature.


For many decades, Giraffatitan was claimed to be the largest dinosaur known, (ignoring the possibly larger but lost Amphicoelias) but in the later part of the 20th century several giant titanosaurians (Argentinosaurus, Puertasaurus and Futalognkosaurus) appear to have surpassed Giraffatitan in terms of sheer mass. However, Giraffatitan, along with Brachiosaurus are still the largest dinosaurs known from relatively complete material.[1]

All size estimates for Giraffatitan are based on the specimen HMN SII, a subadult individual between 21.8–22.5 metres (72–74 ft) in length and about 12 meters (39 ft) tall. Mass estimates are more problematic and historically have varied from as little as 15 tonnes (17 short tons) to as much as 78.3 tonnes (86.3 short tons).[4][5] These extreme estimates are now considered unlikely due to flawed methodologies. More recent estimates based on models reconstructed from bone volume measurements, which take into account the extensive, weight-reducing air sac systems present in sauropods, and estimated muscle mass, are in the range of 23.3–39.5 tonnes (25.7–43.5 short tons). However, HMN SII is not the largest specimen known (an assertion supported by its subadult status) but HMN XV2, represented by a tibia 13% larger than the corresponding material on HMN SII, which might have attained 26 metres (85 ft) in length.

The Land Before Time

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Light brown Giraffatitan behind Bron.

In The Land Before Time X: The Great Longneck Migration, a Giraffatitan is briefly seen behind Bron when Littlefoot tells him that he wants to go with his grandparents and friends.