Giraffatitan

giraffatitan
Giraffatitan (Dmitri Bogdanov).

Name:

Giraffatitan (Greek for "giant giraffe"); pronounced jih-RAFF-ah-tie-tan

Habitat:

Plains and woodlands of Africa

Historical Period:

Late Jurassic (150 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 80 feet long and 40 tons

Diet:

Plants

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large size; quadrupedal posture; longer front than hind legs; long, massive neck

 

About Giraffatitan

Giraffatitan is one of those dinosaurs that dances around the fringes of respectability: its existence is attested to by numerous fossil specimens (discovered in the African nation of Tanzania), but the suspicion lingers that this "giant giraffe" was actually a species of an existing genus of sauropod, most likely Brachiosaurus.

However Giraffatitan winds up being classified, there's no doubt that it was one of the tallest (if not one of the heaviest) sauropods ever to walk the earth, with a hugely elongated neck that would have allowed it to hold its head more than 40 feet above ground level (a pose that most paleontologists think is unrealistic, considering the metabolic demands this would have placed on Giraffatitan's heart).

Although Giraffatitan does bear a marked resemblance to a modern giraffe--especially considering its long neck and longer front than hind legs--its name is a bit deceptive. Most dinosaurs that end with the Greek root "titan" are titanosaurs--the widespread family of thunderous, four-legged plant-eaters that evolved from the sauropods of the late Jurassic period, and were characterized by their large sizes and  lightly armored skin. Even at 80 feet long and upwards of 30 to 40 tons, Giraffitan would have been dwarfed by the true titanosaurs of the later Mesozoic Era, such as Argentinosaurus and the oddly spelled Futalognkosaurus, both of which lived in late Cretaceous South America.

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Strauss, Bob. "Giraffatitan." ThoughtCo, Jan. 24, 2017, thoughtco.com/giraffatitan-1092877. Strauss, Bob. (2017, January 24). Giraffatitan. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/giraffatitan-1092877 Strauss, Bob. "Giraffatitan." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/giraffatitan-1092877 (accessed January 21, 2018).