A newly-named dinosaur species that was as heavy as a space shuttle has been declared the largest ever by experts.
A study published this week describes the 76-ton Patagotitan as the biggest of a group of large dinosaurs called titanosaurs. The announcement follows the discovery of Patagotitan fossils in southern Argentina in 2012.
The new giant titanosaur “represents the largest species described so far and one of the most complete titanosaurs,” explained the researchers in the study published Tuesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
“There was one small part of the family that went crazy on size,” said Diego Pol of the Egidio Feruglio paleontology museum in Argentina, co-author of the study.
The researchers named the dinosaur Patagotitan mayorum after the Patagonia region where it was found and the Greek word titan, which means large. The second name honors a ranch family that hosted the researchers.
Six fossils of the species were studied and dated to about 100 million years ago, based on ash found around them, Pol said. The dinosaur averaged 122 feet long and was nearly 20 feet high at the shoulder.
The new dinosaur species serves as the model for a 122-foot dinosaur skeleton at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The Museum is hosting an event Wednesday to celebrate the announcement of the dinosaur’s scientific name. The titanosaur is so big that its head sticks out into a hallway at the famous museum.