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“Titan of Patagonia”: one of the largest dinosaurs on display in London

He lived in Patagonia nearly 100 million years ago and ate 130 kilograms of plants a day: A cast of the largest dinosaur on Earth is on display in London from Friday, the first of its kind in Europe.

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The 37.2-meter-tall skeleton of the animal – a titanosaurus called Patagotitan Mayor, “Titan of Patagonia” – has just entered the exhibition hall of the Natural History Museum in London. Researchers say that if the dinosaur’s neck were lifted, it would be the size of a five-story building.

A replica of the titanosaurus takes place in the same room of the museum where the famous “Debbie,” a popular cast from the Diplodocus movie until 2017, was shown.

The deconstruction of the dinosaur “Dippy,” which had been installed in the museum’s main hall since 1979, sparked an outpouring of grief among museum visitors who launched the “Save Dippy” petition. It was replaced by the skeleton of a blue whale, baptized “Hope” (“Hope” in French).

The new skeleton on display is a replica of one of six dinosaurs, one of the largest on Earth, discovered after an Argentine farmer discovered a huge bone protruding from the ground in 2010. Then the excavations continued until 2015.

France Press agency

“They discovered a cemetery for six different animals in the ground,” Paul Barrett, scientific director of the exhibition, told AFP. “For three years, they excavated all these bones and were able to reveal that they had discovered a new species of giant dinosaur, one of the largest animals that ever set foot on Earth.”

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The dinosaurs discovered in the forests of Patagonia now lived between 95 and 100 million years ago, during the late Cretaceous period.

France Press agency

According to research, these giant herbivores could weigh around 57 tons, with huge necks and long tails. They had to eat 130 kilograms of plants each day to support themselves.

Scientists estimate that the six animals died at the same time without knowing the reason.

France Press agency

“We don’t know why they died… perhaps they were swept away by a flood. Or they were killed by some other environmental problem, such as drought,” says Mr Barrett, adding that research is underway.

After the discovery in Argentina, experts took 3D scans of each dinosaur to create replicas out of polyester resin and fiberglass and then mounted them on a steel structure.

It took more than six months for a Canadian company to manufacture this giant cast, from dozens of fossil bones excavated from the site.

The real bones would have been too heavy to display, but the fact that they are replicas allows visitors to touch the cast.

France Press agency

Sinead Marron, of the Natural History Museum, said the replica arrived in London in 32 separate boxes, meaning each piece had to be put together like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

According to her, the aim of the exhibition is to “tell the story of how an animal like this grows from a tiny egg, smaller than a football, to become this amazing 57-ton behemoth.”

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Games and replicas help bring this story to life. Visitors can touch the teeth of one of the titanosaurus’ predators or even go inside its internal organs to see how its lungs, heart and intestines worked together.