Supersaurus, which stomped through North America approximately 150 million years ago, earned the distinction this month after a researcher claimed to have corrected a longstanding misidentification made by a researcher a half-century ago.
Brian Curtice, an Arizona Museum of Natural History palaeontologist who made the claim November 5 at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology’s annual conference said that there have been other contenders for the lengthiest dino from snout to tail, but ‘this is the longest dinosaur based on a decent skeleton,.
Other candidates including Argentinosaurus, Brachiosaurus, and Diplodocus are based on fragmentary remains, making an accurate assessment difficult. The first Supersaurus bones were unearthed in Colorado’s Dry Mesa Dinosaur Quarry in 1972 by Brigham Young University palaeontologist James Jensen. Jensen found an 8-foot scapulocoracoid, or shoulder girdle, from an adult dinosaur later classified as Supersaurus.He also found remains that he identified as belonging to two other sauropods he later named Ultrasauros and Dystylosaurus.
But according to Curtice, Jensen got it wrong: instead of three distinct sauropods, these were all parts of the same dinosaur.Curtice attributes the mix-up to cracks and distortions in the bones over the millions of years that made them appear to be noticeably different in size. Earlier estimates of Supersaurus’ length maxed out at about 111 feet, but reevaluating the Dry Mesa data gives a much more complete picture of its size.