Real Godzillas: Long before movies, fierce creatures ruled

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Ninety million years ago during the late Cretaceous period, a dinosaur that was 130 feet long, 65 feet tall and weighed roughly 80 tons held bragging rights to being the biggest creature in history.

On May 17 paleontologists announced the discovery of this creature’s massive thigh bone, found in a dinosaur graveyard in Argentina. 

Scientists already have a good idea what the creature might have looked like based on a full fossil of a similar sauropod found nearby. They can extrapolate its size until more fossil evidence is found.

There’s a consensus that a creature can’t get much bigger than this herbivore without violating fundamental laws of physics, but scientists are prepared to be surprised. Dinosaur fossils have a way of upending human expectations.

Take another recent fossil find, this one in Ganzhou, a city in southern China. Paleontologists are calling this carnivore, which also lived in the Cretaceous period, Qianzhousaurus sinensis — or Pinocchio rex. It is from the same family as Tyrannosaurus rex but possessed a longer, crocodile-like snout studded with tiny horns.

Pinocchio rex was 29 feet tall and weighed 1,800 pounds, making it shorter than its fearsome 42-foot-tall cousin T-rex. It lived 66 million years ago and was as efficient a killer as nature ever devised. It was an odd-looking animal, though.

More bones of more creatures that walked the Earth are still buried under eons of sediment, so people should always be prepared to be surprised. Though fragmentary by nature, the fossil record doesn’t lie. The world once was ruled by fabulous, if anti-social, dragons.

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