Bruhathkayosaurus

neuquensaurus
Neuquensaurus, a close relative of Bruhathkayosaurus (Getty Images).

Name:

Bruhathkayosaurus (Greek for "huge-bodied lizard"); pronounced broo-HATH-kay-oh-SORE-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of India

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (70 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

Up to 150 feet long and 200 tons, if it really existed

Diet:

Plants

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Enormous size; long neck and tail

 

About Bruhathkayosaurus

Bruhathkayosaurus is one of those dinosaurs that comes with a lot of asterisks attached.

When the remains of this animal were discovered in India, in the late 1980's, paleontologists thought they were dealing with an enormous theropod along the lines of the ten-ton Spinosaurus of northern Africa. On further examination, though, the discoverers of the type fossil speculated that Bruhathkayosaurus was actually a titanosaur, the huge, armored descendants of the sauropods that roamed every continent on earth during the Cretaceous period.

The trouble is, though, that the pieces of Bruthathkayosaurus that have been identified so far don't convincingly "add up" to a complete titanosaur; it's only classified as one because of its enormous size. For example, the supposed tibia (leg bone) of Bruhathkayosaurus was almost 30 percent bigger than that of the much-better-attested  Argentinosaurus, meaning that if it really was a titanosaur it would have been by far the biggest dinosaur of all time--as much as 150 feet long from head to tail and 200 tons.

There's a further complication, which is that the provenance of the "type specimen" of Bruhathkayosaurus is dubious at best. The team of researchers that unearthed this dinosaur left out some important details in their 1989 paper; for example, they included line drawings, but not actual photographs, of the recovered bones, and also didn't bother to point out any detailed "diagnostic characteristics" that would attest to Bruhathkayosaurus truly being a titanosaur.

In fact, in the absence of hard evidence, some paleontologists believe that the alleged "bones" of Bruhathkayosaurus are actually pieces of petrified wood!

For now, pending further fossil discoveries, Bruhathkayosaurus languishes in limbo, not quite a titanosaur and not quite the largest land-dwelling animal that ever lived. This isn't an unusual fate for recently discovered titanosaurs; pretty much the same can be said about Amphicoelias and Dreadnoughtus, two other violently disputed contenders for the title of Biggest Dinosaur Ever.

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Strauss, Bob. "Bruhathkayosaurus." ThoughtCo, Jan. 25, 2017, thoughtco.com/bruhathkayosaurus-1092699. Strauss, Bob. (2017, January 25). Bruhathkayosaurus. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/bruhathkayosaurus-1092699 Strauss, Bob. "Bruhathkayosaurus." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/bruhathkayosaurus-1092699 (accessed May 24, 2018).