The largest animal on Earth today is the blue whale, the majestic cetacean stretching upwards of 100 feet in length. It’s difficult to fathom such an enormous creature, and yet they exist right alongside us. Trying to imagine a creature reaching 50 feet skyward at the neck alone? That’s nothing short of mind-boggling. Recent dinosaur fossil analysis, however, proved that they did, in fact, exist.
Over 160 million years ago, a dino dubbed Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum freely roamed the Earth. Scientists first discovered the fossilized remains of the dinosaur back in 1987, when archaeologists recovered the bones from 162-million-year-old rocks in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of northwest China.
At the time, they noted the dinosaur was impressively large. A new analysis of the dinosaur’s fossilized neck, however, revealed just how large the creature truly was. In their reassessment, scientists realized that the neck of the sauropod was a staggering 50 feet in length.
To put that into perspective, the average school bus is around 35 feet long. Meanwhile, the neck of an average giraffe is a mere 6 feet in length. At more than 8 times the length of modern-day wildlife known for its elongated neck, the Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum is in the running for the animal with the longest neck ever recorded.
Scientists Hope to Discover Fossils Belonging to Even Larger Dinosaurs in the Future
From snout to tail, fossils suggest the dinosaur stretched over 160 feet in length. Don’t worry, though, like the blue whale and the giraffe, the Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum was harmless (unless you found yourself trapped beneath its massive feet – they did weigh around 70 tonnes, after all).
A species of herbivorous sauropod, the long-necked dino lived on a steady diet of plant life. Because they were so large, scientists estimate they ate many thousands of pounds of greenery every day!
Thanks to the marvel of modern technology, scientists were able to estimate the size of the dinosaur using only a handful of bones. To do so, they compared what little they had with complete fossils of closely related dinosaurs, painting an accurate picture of the gentle giant.
Now, an animal even larger than a blue whale is the definition of gigantic. Scientists, however, believe that the dinosaur fossils they studied did not represent the largest of the species.
“Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum might be the longest-necked sauropod discovered so far, but odds are that there were larger, longer sauropods roaming around the Late Jurassic of what is now China,” said Andrew Moore, a paleontologist at Stony Brook University in New York, per The Guardian.
“Unless we’re willing to believe that we just so happened to discover the largest single individual sauropod that ever existed, our default assumption should always be that there were larger animals out there. We can only hope that some of these titans fossilized, and are just waiting to be discovered by paleontologists.”