New 26,000-pound dinosaur discovery was Earth’s largest land animal

CNN:

If humans had lived 200 million years ago, they would have marveled at the largest dinosaur of its time. It’s name means “a giant thunderclap at dawn.”

The recently discovered fossil of a new dinosaur species in South Africa revealed a relative of the brontosaurus that weighed 26,000 pounds, about double the size of a large African elephant.

The researchers have named it Ledumahadi mafube, which is Sesotho for “a giant thunderclap at dawn.” Sesotho is an official South African language indigenous to the part of the country where the dinosaur was found.

“The name reflects the great size of the animal as well as the fact that its lineage appeared at the origins of sauropod dinosaurs,” said Jonah Choiniere, study author and paleontology professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. “It honors both the recent and ancient heritage of southern Africa.”

Apart from its massive size, there are other evolutionary details about the new species that make it entirely unique, according to a new study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

“It shows us that even as far back as 200 million years ago, these animals had already become the largest vertebrates to ever walk the Earth,” Choiniere said.

Choiniere’s graduate student, Blair McPhee, discovered the bones of an unknown dinosaur in 2012.
“Blair told me how important he thought it was, and even showed me that some of its bones were still sticking out of the rocks in the field,” Choiniere said.

Over years of excavation, the team uncovered the fossil of a fully-grown adult dinosaur, likely about 14 years old when it died.

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