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a plant-eating titanosaurian sauropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Argentina.
Pronunciation: NOT-o-cuh-LOSS-us
Meaning: Southern giant
Author/s: González Riga, et al. (2016)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Mendoza Province, Argentina
Chart Position: 765

Notocolossus gonzalezparejasi

The biggest problem for "the biggest ever sauropod" is that it, whatever "it" is, is challenged on a regular basis, especially by Argentinian titanosaurs, and in no time at all they are challenged themselves. Unfortunately, these pretenders are mostly reconstructed from an odd bone or three, so although it's nice to think that a humongous toe, or tooth, or tibia, or tarsal belongs to something as big if not bigger than the current title holder, it's generally just pie in the sky.

Notocolossus—coined a mere fortnight after the last "biggest ever" sauropod that has yet to be christened, and 15 months after the "mighty" Dreadnoughtus hit the headlines and was promptly downsized—is the latest contender, though it was named on the strength of just a couple of vertebrae, a piece of hip and a close-to-six-foot-long uber-robust upper arm bone. However, by implimenting proportionate upscaling based on its better-represented relatives, paleontologists reckon the "southern giant" was a critter some 28 meters long and around 50 tons in weight. Is it the biggest ever sauropod? Oh, hell no. Not even close. Fortunately, a second specimen was found around 400 meters from the first which, while smaller and equally meagre, includes parts that are almost as rare as pigeon teeth.

As the name suggests, titanosaurs are big, even the smaller ones, but paleontologists knew little of the stance and locomotion of the exceptionally gigantic Argentinian variety because foot fossils have been few and far between, and complete feet even more so. Notocolossus, then, is a darling, as not only is it a truly huge titanosaur judging by its colossal humerus but it also sports one of the few complete titanosaur feet discovered thus far.

notocolossus-footCompared to non-titanosaurian neosauropods with their namby-pamby metatarsals and long slender toes, the feet of Notocolossus are strikingly compact and seemingly adapted for bearing extraordinary weight. Five metatarsals—the bones between the ankle and toes—are short and thick and remarkably robust, and are all approximately the same length which appears to be a design for even weight distribution. Its unique toes are also very robust and short, not least because they boast just two phalanges (bones that make up the digits) on digits I to IV, and digit five is shorter still, because there isn't one. Digits I, II and III bear unguals that may have been clawed, and all toe tips are gnarly and irregular-shaped, but this may have been caused by an infection during life.
(Parejas' Southern Colossus)Etymology
Notocolossus is derived from the Greek "notos" (southern) and the Latin "colossus", in reference to its discovery on Gondwana (the southern counterpart of the Northern Laurasia; two landmasses that separated from Pangea during the mid-Mesozoic period).
The species epithet, gonzalezparejasi, honours Dr. Jorge González Parejas, who has collaborated and provided legal guidance on the research, protection, and preservation of dinosaur fossils from Mendoza Province for nearly two decades. In so doing, he has advised researchers on the creation of a natural park that serves to protect dinosaur footprints in Mendoza.
The remains of Notocolossus were discovered in the Plottier Formation (Neuquén Group) at Cerro Guillermo, Mendoza Province, Argentina, by Bernardo J. González Riga.
The holotype (UNCUYO-LD 301) is the partial skeleton of a very large individual consisting of one dorsal vertebra, one tail vertebra, the end of the left pubis, and a 1.76m right humerus which is longer than that of any other known titanosaur, though most "bigger" titanosaurs are missing this bone.
A second, somewhat smaller specimen, UNCUYO-LD 302—from a 5m x 5m area some 403m from the holotype but at the same stratigraphic level—was also assigned to Notocolossus, and includes a series of 7 partial tail vertebrae with haemal arches, and a complete right ankle and foot.
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Early Cretaceous
Stage: Coniacian–Santonian
Age range: 86-86 mya
Est. max. length: 28 meters
Est. max. hip height: ?
Est. max. weight: 50 tons
Diet: Herbivore
• González Riga, B. J. et al. (2016) "A gigantic new dinosaur from Argentina and the evolution of the sauropod hind foot". Sci. Rep. 6, 19165; doi: 10.1038/srep19165
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "NOTOCOLOSSUS :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 19th Jan 2018.