Few scientific subjects can excite people quite like the discovery of some huge, flesh-eating dinosaur. Giganotosaurus fit that bill perfectly and made one humongous splash back when its existence was announced in 1995.
1. Was Giganotosaurus Larger than T. rex? At First, the Answer Looked Like a Definite Yes…
After getting formally described that year, Giganotosaurus fossils found themselves featured everywhere from National Geographic to Good Morning America. Why? Because, at the time, some experts thought this creature was substantially bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex. Early estimates claimed Giganotosaurus stretched 47 feet from nose-tip to tail-tip, whereas the seemingly-dethroned “tyrant lizard” measured around 7 feet shorter.
2. … But It Doesn’t Anymore.
But those conclusions were based on very incomplete skeletal remains and, today, most paleontologists calculate a tamer length of 40 feet or so for Giganotosaurus. Also, many now argue that while the two titans were comparable in that department, T. rex was probably much heavier.
3. Giganotosaurus Didn’t Have the Strongest Bite.
You wouldn’t want either dino nibbling on you, but T. rex jaws were clearly built to exert far more force than Giganotosaurus could muster. Appropriately, the former predator’s pearly whites were thick and banana-shaped—perfect for bone-crushing. Giganotosaurus, in contrast, had thinner, blade-like teeth. These would have been more adept at slicing through flesh and came with biting muscles that put greater emphasis on speed over power.
4. It’s Got a Relative Named After the Great White Shark.
Carcharodontosaurus of Africa was so dubbed as a tribute to this fearsome fish, whose scientific name is Carcharodon carcharias. Someone at the SyFy Channel needs to make the two fight, preferably inside some sort of “-nado.”
5. Giganotosaurus Took on a Heroic Role in James Gurney’s Dinotopia Saga.
Sentient dinosaurs and stranded humans live side by side in these popular novels that inspired an epic ABC film adaptation and a short-lived TV series. Gurney’s second installment, Dinotopia: The World Beneath (1996) includes some affable Giganotosaurus who rescue our protagonists from a threatening Tyrannosaurus and help chase down an unscrupulous (human) evil-doer.
6. It Also Terrified Viewers in BBC’s Primeval.
The time-traveling program has also featured such A-list dinos as Triceratops and Spinosaurus.
7. Even Giganotosaurus’ Head Size has Been Reassessed.
One bold estimate held that the predator’s skull was almost 6 feet (1.8 meters) long, but, in recent years, that assessment has been widely dismissed and a series of shorter lengths have been proposed.
8. Its Brain was More or Less Proportioned Like a Modern Reptile’s.
Though some bird-like dinos were decently-endowed in the cerebral sense, Giganotosaurus’ brain cavity is—when compared to the rest of its body—proportionally similar to those of 21st-century lizards, snakes, and turtles.
9. Giganotosaurus May’ve Been Gregarious.
James Emery, Flickr
Closely associated bones belonging to at least seven individual Mapusaurus—Giganotosaurus’ close cousin and near look-alike—were uncovered in Argentina during the late 1990s. This merely proves that that these creatures died near one another, but a few paleontologists speculate that the group represented some sort of community and possibly even a wolf-like pack.
10. Its “Hometown” Shows Giganotosaurus Lots of Affection.
Giganotosaurus was originally found near Villa el Chocon. Residents are rather proud of their local dino, a fact reflected not only by their excellent museum but also through an intense Giganotosaurus statue which sits beside a road, staring down at motorists.