New Fossil Discoveries Reveals That It Could Be The World's Longest-Living Dinosaur

Supersaurus compared to the meat-eating Allosaurus.
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Supersaurus compared to the meat-eating Allosaurus. (Sean Fox/Gustavo Monroy/Fossil Crates)

Highlights

  • A new fossil discoveries identifies that is suggested to be the world's longest-living dinosaur that experts have corrected a fossil mix-up
  • The Supersaurus has long been thought to be one of the longest dinosaurs, but new research shows that this is the longest dinosaur based on a decent skeleton

A new fossil discoveries identifies that is suggested to be the world's longest-living dinosaur that experts have corrected a fossil mix-up and evaluated fresh bones discovered from the long-necked dinosaur's final resting location, the gold medal for the world's longest dinosaur may belong to the aptly titled Supersaurus. Supersaurus was a diplodocid, a long-necked sauropod with a whip-like tail that went on for days, like other extremely long dinosaurs.

The Supersaurus has long been thought to be one of the longest dinosaurs, but new research shows that this is the longest dinosaur based on a decent skeleton, because other dinosaur remains are fragmentary, making it difficult to accurately estimate their lengths, according to Brian Curtice, a palaeontologist at the Arizona Museum of Natural History who is leading the study. According to Curtice's latest research, Supersaurus had a snout-to-tail length of over 128 feet (39 metres) and potentially even 137 feet (42 metres) when it was alive some 150 million years ago during the Jurassic period.
Even its smaller size is record-breaking; at 128 feet, the dinosaur would have been longer than another contender – Diplodocus, which could reach lengths of 108 feet (33 m), according to a 2006 study published in the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin of a specimen known as Seismosaurus.
The study was presented online Nov. 5 at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology's annual conference. It has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.The new discovery has been over 50 years in the making; the first Supersaurus specimen was discovered in 1972 in a bonebed that was essentially a "bone salad," according to Curtice. As a result, it wasn't immediately evident which of the beast's bones belonged to him.
That bone salad was discovered in Dry Mesa Dinosaur Quarry in Colorado by dinosaur field worker Jim Jensen, who collected and prepared fossils for Brigham Young University in Utah. Jensen uncovered a scapulocoracoid – two fused bones that make up the shoulder girdle in mature dinosaurs and other reptiles – that was 8 feet long (2.4 metres). Additional bones found in the quarry belonged to two other sauropod dinosaurs that Jensen called Ultrasauros and Dystylosaurus years later.
The news of the monstrous bones made the front pages. According to palaeontologists Michael Taylor and Mathew Wedel's blog Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week (SV-POW), the public was curious that a dinosaur larger than Brachiosaurus then considered the longest dinosaur, existed.
During the media frenzy that followed its discovery, a writer christened the largest beast Supersaurus.Jensen announced the finding of three new sauropod dinosaurs from the quarry in a research published in the journal Great Basin Naturalist in 1985. Jensen, on the other hand, was not a professional palaeontologist and made some errors in his analysis.
Paleontologists have questioned whether Ultrasauros and Dystylosaurus are legitimate genera, or whether their bones were misdiagnosed and belong to a single Supersaurus, as Curtice argues.
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