What Were the Largest Dinosaurs? | Dino Guide
Volo Auto Museum strives to provide you and your family with an engaging, educational and fun experience when you choose to visit. Being a family-owned business, the museum understands the importance of engaging a wide variety of visitors — from children to amateur enthusiasts to serious car collectors. Because of the variety of attractions and activities, Volo Auto Museum is confident that anyone can enjoy a visit here.
While the sales arm of Volo Auto Sales and Museum specializes in collector cars and auto sales, the museum’s highly varied exhibitions and offerings are not limited to cars or the automobile industry. One of the museum’s most exciting features is its Jurassic Garden. Volo’s Jurassic Garden features over 30 animatronic dinosaurs, educational information, fossils, skeletons and numerous photo ops.
This family-friendly attraction is sure to entertain and educate visitors of all ages and interests.
A Brief Guide To The Biggest Dinosaurs
The study of fossils and other prehistoric life is known as paleontology. Most of what we know about dinosaurs, as well as other mesozoic plants and life forms, comes from this branch of scientific study. The nature of this work, which studies the earth as it was hundreds of millions of years ago, depends almost entirely on piecing together information based on fossil and other types of found evidence. Since the Mesozoic Era predates human existence, there naturally aren’t any written or oral accounts from eyewitnesses — there weren’t any eyewitnesses to keep accounts! For this reason, paleontologists must base nearly all of their findings on discovered fossil pieces and skeletal fragments. As such, there is ongoing debate about what the true, definitive sizes of certain dinosaur species really were. Most of these measurements are simply educated estimates, informed by fossils, bone fragments and other historical evidence.
On one hand, some reports indicate that the largest dinosaurs were even larger and heavier than scientists originally believed. On the other hand, in a 2020 study, some paleontologists reassessed the true size and weight of the Patagotitan mayorum. Previously believed to be about 70 tons in weight, the new study reduced this weight estimate to only about 57 tons. As is the case for most dinosaurs, fossils and skeletal remains are incomplete — leading scientists to essentially guess as to what the true size, structure and shape of these enormous creatures really was. It’s important to keep all of this information in mind when thinking about dinosaurs — and especially when trying to establish which dinos were the biggest and/or the fiercest. The following dinosaurs included on these lists are just some of the huge, prehistoric creatures that have been discovered to date.
The Largest Dinosaurs On Land
Today, the largest known land animals are elephants. The African elephant, for example, can weigh between 4000 and 14,000 pounds, and can stand up to thirteen feet tall! To put that in context, many dinosaur fossils are exponentially larger than modern-day elephants! Because fossils are, by nature, difficult to measure in a real-world sense, there is some debate among the paleontological community about what is the largest dinosaur ever found. Most of the largest dinosaurs come from the sauropod subgroup — four-legged herbivores that existed from the late-Jurassic period through the Cretaceous period. While compiling a definitive size ranking is nearly impossible, the following list rounds up the top ten biggest dinosaurs known today.
- Dreadnoughtus. Dreadnoughtus is believed to be one of the largest creatures to ever walk on the earth. Based on a fossil that was unearthed in 2009, paleontologists believe that the Dreadnoughtus measured about 85 feet in length and weighed about 65 tons. Based on evidence deduced from its fossil, the Dreadnoughtus was likely an herbivore, using its thirty-seven-foot-long neck to reach leafy branches and high vegetation.
- Patagotitan mayorum. Some paleontologists believe that the Patagotitan mayorum may have been the largest creature to ever exist on our planet. Prior to its formal naming in 2017, the Patagotitan mayorum was known simply as the “Titanosaur” due to its enormous frame. Likely about 77 tons in weight, with a length of 122 feet, this dinosaur was undeniably a prehistoric giant. Scientists believe that the patagotitan mayorum lived near the end of the Cretaceous period, about 95 million years ago.
- Argentinosaurus. No complete skeleton or fossil of the Argentinosaurus has ever been found, so the exact size specifications of this creature are open to conjecture. However, educated projections, informed by partial skeletal findings, indicate that the Argentinosaurus stood between 120 - 130 feet tall, and may have weighed as much as 110 tons.
- Austroposeidon magnificus. To date, the Austroposeidon magnificus is the largest dinosaur to be discovered in Brazil. Based on evidence deduced from the fossil and its surrounding dirt, paleontologists believe that the Austroposeidon magnificus lived during the Cretaceous period, some time between 84 and 66 million years ago. It is yet another member of the titanosaur family. Estimates indicate that this creature, full grown, would have measured about 82 feet long.
- Saltasaurus. In comparison to other titanosaur species, the Saltasaurus is on the smaller side, weighing only a measly 7 tons and measuring just 42 feet in length. Based on fossil evidence, paleontologists believe that the saltasaurus’ skin consisted of tough, “body armor” plates that made it relatively impervious to attacks.
- Rapetosaurus. Rapetosaurus is yet another member of the titanosaur family. A juvenile skeleton fossil of the Rapetosaurus is, to date, the most complete titanosaurid skeleton to be discovered. Based on this juvenile skeleton, paleontologists estimate that a full-grown rapetosaurus could grow to about 49 feet in length. This creature was an herbivore and lived around 70 million years ago, which dates it to the Cretaceous period.
- Paralititan. The name “Paralititan” means “tidal giant.” This dinosaur — full name Paralititan stromeri — was so named because its fossil was discovered in a mangrove swamp in Egypt. Another herbivore and titanosaur, paleontologists think that the Paralititan’s size would have approached the gigantic dimensions of the Argentinosaurus. Its length is estimated between 80 and 100 feet, and its weight somewhere between 60 and 83 tons. Like its fellow titanosaurs, the Paralititan dates to the Cretaceous period, about 90 million years ago.
- Shingopana songwensis. The Shinopana songwensis is one of the smallest known titanosaurs. At only about 26 feet in length, this dinosaur is relatively small in comparison to others on this list. However, the Shingopana is an interesting and unique creature. Fossil evidence indicates that, rather than typical vertebrae, the Shingopana’s spine was made of round balls of rough bone. Like other titanosaurs, the Shingopana was an herbivore. These dinos likely traveled in herds as a defense mechanism due to their relatively small size.
- Tyrannosaurus Rex. Contrary to popular belief, the Tyrannosaurus Rex is not the biggest dinosaur to have existed. However, despite their relatively small size — about 40 feet in length and 8 tons in weight — the T-Rex lives up to its reputation as one of the fiercest and most frightening creatures from the Cretaceous period. The carnivorous T-Rex possessed sixty pointed, saw-edged teeth. Paleontologists believe that the T-Rex’s bite strength was more than three times that of a lion. The Tyrannosaurus dates to the Cretaceous period, about 60 to 70 million years ago.
- Giganotosaurus. The Giganotosaurus is similar in both shape, size and personality to the Tyrannosaurus Rex, though slightly longer and slimmer. The Giganotosaurus' teeth were very sharp and blade-like, necessitated by their carnivorous diet. Unlike the T-Rex, the Gigantosaurus had three fingers rather than just two. Sometimes called the “giant southern lizard,” fossil evidence of this dino was discovered in Argentina and likely dates to the early Cretaceous period, about 100 million years ago.
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Largest Dinosaurs In The Water
Today, in the 21st century, the largest known creature is the blue whale. Blue whales can weigh about 150 tons and grow to a length of about 98 feet. Many of the oldest and most mysterious creatures on our planet today are those that live in the ocean. Even modern animals like alligators and crocodiles share significant characteristics with dinosaurs and other creatures from the prehistoric eras. Some of the largest prehistoric creatures lived in the water and had different features than their more famous dinosaur cousins who lived on the land. This list encompasses some of the largest and most fascinating water-dwelling dinosaurs.
- Sarcosuchus. The Sarcosuchus is sometimes called the “super crocodile.” This prehistoric crocodile is one of the most fascinating prehistoric creatures. Modern estimates indicate that a full-grown Sarcosuchus could measure about 32 feet in length. In fact, some scientists believe that the Sarcosuchus actually continued growing throughout its lifetime — its size was only limited by the amount of food it was able to consume. Its sharp, pointed teeth suggest that the Sarcosuchus was a fierce predator that likely hunted and ate fish. However, their large size also indicates that, like modern-day crocodiles, these creatures occasionally left the water to prey on other dinosaurs as well.
- Archelon. The Archelon is technically a turtle, though its enormous size and unique features often lead it to be included in many different books and studies about dinosaurs. Dating to the late Cretaceous period, the Archelon lived almost entirely underwater and thus was relatively safe from attacks from land dinosaurs. The full-grown Archelon measured about 14 to 15 feet in length, making it about three times the size of a modern-day leatherback turtle. The Archelon’s shell was likely rather lightweight, allowing for buoyancy and ease of movement throughout the ocean. These creatures were not bottom feeders; rather, they likely stayed near the upper surface areas of the water where food was more prevalent. They would have spent most of their time floating in order to conserve energy.
- Shastasaurus. The Shastasaurus is the largest prehistoric marine creature discovered to date. It could grow to lengths of up to nearly 70 feet in length, and exact estimates of its weight are unknown. The Shastasaurus dates all the way back to the Triassic period, about 220 million years ago, which makes it one of the oldest known prehistoric creatures. Based on the estimated shape of the creature, informed by fossil evidence, scientists believe that they glided and cruised through the water, rather than actively swam, in order to minimize their presence around prey and in order to conserve energy.
- Kronosaurus. The Kronosaurus was a member of the pliosaur family — the pliosaurs were a classification of marine reptiles that existed during the late-Triassic period. The Kronosaurus shared some features similar to that of a prehistoric turtle. It likely would have maneuvered through the water using a lift-based propulsion (like a sea lion), and was a carnivore, consuming smaller marine creatures like giant squids. Based on fossils recovered near what is now Australia, paleontologists estimate the Kronosaurus’ length to be between 25 and 30 feet.
- Elasmosaurus. Like the Kronosaurus, the Elasmosaurus is another example of a pliosaur. Perhaps more than any other creature on this list, the Elasmosaurus corresponds to the most stereotypical ideas that many of us have about what a “sea monster” would look like. With its unbelievably long neck — believed to be at least 46 feet in length — the carnivorous Elasmosaurus could easily catch prey as it moved through the waters. Its name roughly translates to “Ribbon Lizard,” an evocative title that captures the otherworldly characteristics of this creature.
- Mosasaurus. For many dinosaur lovers, the Mosasaurus is one of the most intense and frightening marine reptiles from the prehistoric era. These creatures could weigh up to 28 tons, with a length of up to 55 feet. Its enormous double-hinged jaw could open wide enough to eat a creature the size of a great white shark, or even smaller plesiosaurs. Like modern-day whales, the Mosasaurus occasionally came up for air, so it likely would have kept to the upper surface waters. Dating to the Cretaceous period, Mosasaurus fossils have been found on several different continents around the globe.
See The Dinosaurs At Volo Museum’s Jurassic Garden
Volo Auto Museum is a wonderful destination for true dinosaur enthusiasts and casual visitors alike. The museum’s Jurassic Garden exhibitions are hands-on and interactive — a visit here is as educational as it is fun and engaging. Attractions include over 30 animatronic dinosaurs, the Raptor Pen Arcade Room, and a variety of replica fossil digs and replica dinosaur bones. Visitors of all ages will certainly come away from the museum with a renewed appreciation for these awe-inspiring, prehistoric creatures. The Volo Auto Museum's Jurassic Garden also includes many photo opportunities that children and adults alike are able to enjoy!
Volo Auto Museum is more than happy to accommodate school groups and other field trip outings to the Jurassic Garden and the museum as a whole. The museum is open 10 AM - 5PM, with no admittance after 4PM. Our spacious 40-acre property is accessible and climate controlled. As a small, family owned business, we pride ourselves on our welcoming character and excellent customer service. The Museum is easily accessible from Chicago and other nearby urban areas. We offer a variety of ticket options and pricing. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.