Dreadnoughtus Scientific Classification
This post may contain affiliate links to our partners like Chewy, Amazon, and others. Purchasing through these helps us further the A-Z Animals mission to educate about the world's species..
The Dreadnoughtus belongs to a clade of dinosaurs known as the Titanosaurus.
Titanosaurian dinosaurs are known for their massive size, and experts now believe that the Dreadnoughtus was the largest of them all. The dinosaur that lived during the Late Cretaceous is now considered the largest terrestrial vertebrate to have ever walked the planet.
Description and Size
The Dreadnoughtus is an extinct genus of titanosaurian sauropod dinosaurs that lived largely in the Southern Hemisphere during the Cretaceous period ( about 100 million to 66 million years ago). Scientists have only found one species in this genus. The Dreadnoughtus schrani was one of the largest dinosaurs to have ever walked the planet.
The majority of the D. schrani bones that paleontologists have found were in good condition. This provides a good idea of what this dinosaur and other titanosaurian dinosaurs must have looked like. Dreadnoughtus was about 26 meters (about 85 ft) long and had an estimated mass of about 59 metric tons, making it the largest land animal by mass to have ever lived. This dinosaur stood at about 9 meters (30 feet) in height and had an 11-meter (37-foot) long neck.
Scientists believe that the Dreadnoughtus had a wide stance and their forelimbs were longer than that of previously identified titanosaur dinosaurs. However, their forelimbs were not significantly longer than the hind limbs, meaning their body had more of a horizontal alignment than an anteriorly inclined one like that of the Brachiosaurus.
The Dreadnoughtus’ long neck probably allowed it to forage from nearby trees or other tall vegetation. This massive dinosaur also had a long muscular tail which scientists speculate might have been used for defense against potential predators.
Diet: What Did Dreadnoughtus Eat?
Paleontologists believe that the Dreadnoughtus was most likely an herbivore. Standing at over 30 feet in height and with a 37-foot neck, the gigantic dinosaur would have been able to reach high to browse on the leaves of tall trees. The neck was also long and flexible enough to reach down to feed on vegetation on the ground as well. Scientists are not exactly sure of what their diet would have consisted of, but they probably grazed on cretaceous plants such as cycads, conifers, and ferns.
Habitat: When and Where It Lived
We know very little about the exact habitat of the Dreadnoughtus. The two fossils of this dinosaur’s type species were in Upper Cretaceous rocks within the Cerro Fortaleza Formation in Argentina.
The region of South America where they lived was probably a mix of forest and several rivers. These rivers were prone to frequent flooding. The Dreadnoughtus remains might have been buried by quicksand from one of such flooding events, which explains why their fossils were so perfectly preserved.
Threats and Predators
Considering the massive size of the Dreadnoughtus, predators were most likely not a threat to it. Even the largest carnivorous dinosaurs at the time would have posed a threat to an adult Dreadnoughtus. Experts believe the massive tail of this dinosaur could have been used as a club-like weapon to fend off predators. But it is unlikely it would have had use for it. The presence of teeth from carnivorous dinosaurs around the site of the fossil’s discovery suggests that they might have scavenged on the Dreadnoughtus’ remains after it died.
Discoveries and Fossils: Where It was Found
Scientists found the type species of the Dreadnoughtus genus, the D. schrani, in Upper Cretaceous rocks. Paleontologists discovered the fossils from the Cerro Fortaleza Formation in the Santa Cruz Province, Patagonia, Argentina. American paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara discovered these two fossils in 2005. It took him and his team four summers to complete the excavations of these fossils. This was due to their large size and the remote location of the discovery site.
This amount of fossil material found and their state of preservation is unprecedented, considering the size of this dinosaur. Despite their massive size, scientists believe that these dinosaurs were relatively young when they died. The discovery of these two well-preserved Dreadnoughtus schrani fossils provided some insights into the study of the size and anatomy of the giant Titanosaurus dinosaurs.
Extinction: When Did They Die Out?
The Dreadnoughtus most likely disappeared about 65 million years ago during the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event. This was a global event that wiped out all the non-avian dinosaurs. The Dreadnoughtus disappeared along with about 70% of all living species on earth at the time.
Similar Animals to the Dreadnoughtus
Giganotosaurus – this is an extinct genus of theropod dinosaurs that lived in South America during the late Cretaceous period. Scientists consider the Giganotosaurus as one of the largest known terrestrial carnivores.
Brachiosaurus – the Brachiosaurus was a genus of sauropod dinosaurs that lived during the late Jurassic period. Like the Dreadnoughtus, this species is also famous for its disproportionately long necks.
Futalognkosaurus- the Futalognkosaurus is one of the largest herbivorous titanosaurian dinosaurs. Like the massive Dreadnoughtus, it also lived in South America around the same period.View all 81 animals that start with D
Dreadnoughtus FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
When did the Dreadnoughtus live?
Dreadnoughtus lived during the Cretaceous period which was roughly 100 million to 66 million years ago. Fossils of the type species of the genus were found in rock deposits that date back to about 77 million years ago.
How big was Dreadnoughtus?
Dreadnoughtus dinosaurs were roughly 26 meters long and had an estimated mass of about 59 metric tons. That’s about the weight of 6 elephants. The massive dinosaur stood at about 9 meters with a long 11-meter neck.
Was Dreadnoughtus the biggest dinosaur?
Yes, scientists believe that the Dreadnoughtus was the biggest known dinosaur. It was also the largest terrestrial animal to have ever walked the planet.
What did the Dreadnoughtus eat?
Dreadnoughtus were herbivores. This means they fed on plants that were in abundance in South America during the late cretaceous. Scientists are not exactly sure of their diet but it probably consisted of cycads, conifers, and ferns.
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.
- , Available here: http://www.prehistoric-wildlife.com/species/d/dreadnoughtus.html
- , Available here: https://www.britannica.com/animal/Dreadnoughtus
- , Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreadnoughtus