Patagotitan mayorum: The world’s largest dinosaur weighing 70 tonnes is coming to Europe

The massive dinosaur is four times heavier than Dippy the Diplodocus, and 39 feet longer than Hope the blue whale.
Deena Theresa
An 'Epic battle' between a Titanosaurus versus Tyrannosaurus.
An 'Epic battle' between a Titanosaurus versus Tyrannosaurus.

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Dippy, the diplodocus, is about to be dethroned. For the first time in Europe, the Natural History Museum London will host the "magnificent" titanosaur, Patagotitan mayorum, which is four times heavier than Dippy and is one of the largest creatures to have ever existed on Earth. Once upon a time, Dippy was the Museum's most famous dinosaur.

The most complete massive dinosaur ever discovered at some 115 feet (37 meters) from nose to tail, the Patagotitan mayorum could have weighed up to 60 or 70 tonnes in life. The titanosaur will arrive at the Museum next spring in March 2023 and hopefully fit inside the 29 feet(nine-meter-high) Waterhouse gallery.

"We should be able to get it in but there won't be much wriggle room," exhibition developer Sinéad Marron told BBC News.

Professor Paul Barrett, science lead on the exhibition, said in a statement: "Patagotitan mayorum is an incredible specimen that tells us more about giant titanosaurs than ever before. Comparable in weight to more than nine African elephants, this star specimen will inspire visitors to care for some of the planet's largest and most vulnerable creatures, which face similar challenges for survival, and show that within Earth’s ecosystems, size really does matter."

Patagotitan mayorum: The world’s largest dinosaur weighing 70 tonnes is coming to Europe
The Patagotitan.

The titanosaur lived some 101 million years ago

The beast's skeleton was uncovered in 2010 when a ranch owner in Patagonia stumbled upon an enormous thigh bone sticking out of the ground. The staff of Argentina's Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio (MEF) (From where the skeleton is being loaned) later dug up more than 200 pieces of the skeleton from the region, along with six individual animals.

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The Museum staff then made casts of these bones that will form the final skeleton that will go on display.

"The number of bones uncovered represents a treasure trove of material," Marron told The Guardian. "It means we now know a lot more about this species than we do about many other dinosaurs."

So, how ancient is the dinosaur? Patagotitan mayorum lived during the early Cretaceous period, some 101 million years ago. The Guardian writes that the creatures were built like "suspension bridges with a huge spine, a vast neck for gathering food from trees, and a tail to provide balance".

The enormous beasts were herbivores

"They were herbivores that gobbled up plants and leaves and fermented them in their vast stomachs, producing huge amounts of methane as a byproduct – so you would not want to hang around the back end of one of these animals," museum dinosaur expert Professor Paul Barrett told The Guardian. "In fact, some people argue that plant-eating dinosaurs like these belched out so much methane they contributed to the greenhouse heating that then had the planet in its grip."

Visitors will be able to track the entire lifecycle of a titanosaur at the Museum, from its football-sized egg to the evidence of a predator that bit its tail.

"We are so excited that Patagotitan, the most complete giant dinosaur ever discovered, is making its European debut here at the Natural History Museum, the home of the dinosaur. Our fascination with dinosaurs provides the ideal opportunity to inspire and inform the next generation about the natural world, and empower them to act for the planet," said Dr. Alex Burch, director of Public Programmes at the Museum.