Introducing, Ingentia prima, a large, four-legged, long-necked dinosaur that lived a whopping 47 million years before giants such as Diplodocus and Brontosaurus shook the Earth.
The specimen, which has been named Ingentia prima, sheds new light on the evolution of dinosaurs, suggesting that gigantism in these animals emerged much earlier than previously thought.
Scientists have unearthed in northwestern Argentina fossils of the earliest-known giant dinosaur, a four-legged plant-eater with a medium-length neck and long tail that was a forerunner of the largest land animals of all time.
Researchers believe that the herbivore quadruped dinosaurs, distinguished by their very long neck and tail, had a body mass of about 10 tons - approximately the weight of two or three elephants.
They were widespread - their remains have been found on all the continents except Antarctica.
Now, the discovery of Ingentia prima - a member of the Lessemsaurid group of dinosaurs and an ancestor of sauropods - shows that some dinosaurs had acquired several key characteristics during the Late Triassic that paved the way toward gigantism.
They all belonged to a family of dinosaurs called "lessemsaurids" and lived in what is now Argentina, but was then the southeast corner of the supercontinent Pangaea.
Dr Apaldetti said the climate would have been warm, with periodic monsoons. producing an African savanna style landscape, with plenty of shrubs on which Ingentia prima would feed.
Gigantism proved a successful evolutionary survival strategy, especially for herbivorous animals, because size is a form of defense against predators.
The fossil was found in the San Juan Province, in north-west Argentina, during a field trip.
'In addition, this kind of breathing implied the presence of cavities, or deep holes, in their bones - known as a pneumatic skeleton - that lightened the weight and would have favoured a large body size'.
While later giant dinosaurs grew in an accelerated yet continuous manner, an examination of its bones showed that Ingentia grew seasonally rather than continuously, but at an even higher rate. At the end of the Triassic period it was a type of savannah.
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