Rapetosaurus

The discovery of the Rapetosaurus, known by the single genus Rapetosaurus krausei (pronounced rah-PAY-too-SORE-us KROW-sie, and meaning "Krause's mischevious giant lizard") script the first time a titanosaur has been improved with an almost perfectly intact skeleton, total with a matching skull. It has helped sort out some sticky century-old classification issues in the middle of this large group of sauropod dinosaurs, and provides a good baseline for the reconstruction of titanosaurs known only from incomplete fossilized remains.

The discovery was published in 1991 by Kristina Curry Rogers and Katherine A. Forster in the scientific periodical Nature. The nearly complete skeleton is that of a juvenile, and partial remains from three other persons were also recovered.

Description

The Rapetosaurus was a fairly characteristic titanosaur, with a short and slender tail, a very long neck, and a huge, elephant-like body. Its head resembles the head of a diplodocid, with a long, thin snout, and nostrils on the top of its skull. It was an herbivore, and its small pencil-like teeth were good for ripping the foliage off trees, but not for chewing.

Rapetosaurus Dinosaur

It was fairly self-effacing in size, for a titanosaur. The juvenile specimen measured 8 meters (26 feet) from head to tail, and "almost certainly weighed about as much as an elephant", according to Kristina Curry Rogers. An adult would be about two times as long, or 15 meters (50 feet) in length — which is still less than half the length of its gigantic kin, like the Argentinosaurus and the Paralititan.

 

Range

Most of the other sauropods, like the Brachiosaurus and Diplodocus, became died out in the early Cretaceous. The titanosaurs were the one exemption. They evolved on the southern supercontinent of Gondwana, and grew in information and diversity until they became the dominant herbivore of the late Cretaceous. Their time in power was cut short by the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event, which killed almost all the dinosaurs about 65 million years past.