The Brachiosaurus

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Pablo Edronkin

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Why were dinosaurs so big? We are thining now about gigantic things like some massive dinosaurs that lived long before humans. One of such animals was Brachiosaurus: this one was among the biggest, heaviest and longest animals that ever lived in our planet.

Brachiosaurus were four legged dinosaurs - sauropods, to be precise - that easily surpassed 85 tonnes in weight, and about 30 metres in length.

The remains of a fossil beach; maybe dinosaurs used to wade these ancient shores.
The remains of a fossil beach; maybe dinosaurs used to wade these ancient shores.

Why natural evolution produced such leviathans has not yet been fully explained, but there are some plausible theories that explain why these late Jurassic animals that lived in parts of what is now the United States, Algeria, Tanzania and in all likelihood over the land between the spots where they were found. One of such theories states that their sheer size made them very good food gatherers because they were able to reach the tallest trees to get fresh leaves, like our elephants today, but in a scale about ten times bigger, considering that an elephant weights about 6,5 tonnes.

Marine fossils from the time of the Brachiosaurus.
Marine fossils from the time of the Brachiosaurus.

Another theory states that size helped these grazing dinosaurs defend themselves from predators like the ancestors of tyrannosaurus. T-Rex had not evolved about 150 million years ago, when Brachiosaurus populated the planet, but there were indeed predators and ancestors of the proverbial land shark. However big and powerful, those carnivorous dinosaurs paled in comparison with Brachiosaurus and similarly gigantic species, and however vicious their attacks, just one of those animals could hardly have killed a massive grazer.

The difference in size and mass between these big cow-like, peaceful animals and the biggest known predators of that time was about the same as a Fox Terrier pitted against a human being; but despite this question of scale, we should remember that animals of the T-rex lineage were quite capable of - literally - chewing a car like a Mini Cooper.

So, we really don't know whether it is fortunate or unfortunate that humans never lived alongside dinos.

Picturing fossils.
Picturing fossils.

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