Giganotosaurus carolinii is the only species that has been discovered in the genus Gigatonosaurus.

It is a genus of theropod dinosaur that generated a lot of controversy regarding its size and even caused several scientific debates about the maximum sizes that this type of dinosaurs could reach.

Of course, what is clear is that it was one of the top predators in its habitat.

But for you to have no doubts, what we will do in this post is to introduce you in detail to this giant predator of the Cretaceous.

Basic information about Giganotosaurus

The Giganotosaurus was undoubtedly a fascinating dinosaur that would have looked totally threatening. Of which we can give you the following description:

  • How long is it? – Approximately twelve meters in length.
  • What is its height? – About 3.5 meters high.
  • What’s his weight? – He weighed between four and fifteen tons.
  • When did he live? – He lived on our planet about 97 million years ago.
  • What’s his family? – It belongs to the Family Carcharodontosauridae.

The taxonomy of Giganotosaurus

Kingdom Animalia > Filo Chordata > Class Reptilia > Clade Dinosauria > Order Saurisquia > Suborder Terophoda > Family Carcharodontosauridae > Subfamily Carcharodontosaurinae > Genus Giganotosaurus

Within the Genus Giganotosaurus there is only one single species discovered, the G.carolinii.

It must be taken into account that even though there is currently only one classified species, at any time samples of some new species belonging to this genus could be found, hence it is maintained and not reclassified anywhere else.

In any case, from we will be aware to update this information when necessary.

Description about Giganotosaurus

As we indicated at the beginning, Giganotosaurus is one of the most controversial dinosaurs. Basically due to the lack of enlightening samples to show and finally conclude how it was.

Even so, some of its features are perfectly founded and thanks to this we can know some of the characteristics and features about Giganotosaurus.

The first thing we should mention is that this genus belonged to the carcharodontosaurus family. This family of dinosaurs is considered the largest predators of the early and mid Cretaceous.

They inhabited the territory known as Gondwana, which is the continent from which the current South America, Africa, Antarctica, Madagascar and Australia emerge. And they have also found remains in what would be Laurasia, which is where North America, Europe and Asia would emerge from.

Among the biggest teropod dinosaurs we can undoubtedly find the Giganotosaurus, only the Spinosaurus is bigger than it, so yes, it is bigger than our main protagonist the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Estimates of its size place it between 12 and 13 meters long, with a large skull of about 1.5 to 1.8 meters long, a thigh of about 1.4 meters and a body mass of 14 to 15 tons.

Although here some more conservative palaeontologists disagree and believe that its weight would be 6 to 8 tons.

But let’s take up again for a moment the characteristic of his enormous skull, which contrary to what you might think, his brain was much smaller in comparison. It’s even smaller than the one T. Rex had!

The truth is that even though this dinosaur is enormous as a whole, the head of the giganotosaurus is still surprising and somewhat disproportionate in terms of its dimensions, as it is still too big for the whole size of the dinosaur.

Visualize for a moment the measurements of the head that we are going to give you next:

In total the skull is about two meters long, where the upper jaw was 92 cm long and all of it was full of sharp, serrated teeth, which could reach 30 cm!

The Giganotosaurus, as we have mentioned, was a theropod dinosaur, that is, it used only its two hind legs to walk, which like almost all theropods were robust and large.

This dinosaur’s tail was long and ended in a thin tip, something that would have helped it keep its balance and even turn around quickly while running.

Speaking of running, it is estimated that this dinosaur would have reached a top speed of 50 km/h!

There are some discrepancies here too, because you have to put its speed at 25 km/h and who would even go so far as to say that it didn’t exceed 18 km/h.
It is believed that its organism was homeothermic, that is, it had the ability to maintain a more or less constant body temperature, which would have allowed it to be an active and fast growing animal.

In comparison with other carcharodontosaurids, the arms or upper limbs of this specimen would have been short, although it had sharp, curved claws on each of its three fingers.

And continuing with the comparison, not only with the carcharodontosaurids but comparing it with any other known theropod, the giganotosaurus is the dinosaur with the longest hind legs; and the fact is that look at the measurements that these could have:

  • The femur could reach a height of 1.36 to 1.43 meters
  • The tibia was about 4 feet long
  • The fibula was about 0.84 meters
  • The vertebrae that serve as the axis of the neck were solid,
  • The cervical vertebrae were short with semi-spherical joints in the front and pleuroceles separated into lamellae.
  • The posterior vertebrae had high neural arches and deep pleuroceles.
  • The tail vertebrae had elongated neural spines from front to back.
  • Its scapular girdle was somewhat shorter than that of Tyrannosaurus rex, for example, with the scapula blade having parallel edges and a robust tuber into which the muscular triceps were inserted.
  • And as a carnivore, its teeth are flat and sharp.

How was its discovery?

The story about this discovery is really amazing. In 1993, a fossil hunter, Rubén D. Carolini, came across a tibia of a theropod dinosaur. This happened in one of his free time, when he went by car to the beach in the wastelands near El Chocón, in Patagonia (Neuquén, Argentina).

After notification of the find, specialists from the Universidad Nacional del Comahue went to the site and excavated the specimen. Argentine palaeontologists Leonardo Salgado and Rodolfo Coria made the discovery known in 1994 at a Vertebrate Paleontology Society in order to obtain funding for the excavation.

Finally they managed to rescue about 70% of the skeleton, including the skull, the pelvic girdle, the tibia, the femurs, the left fibula and the vast majority of the spine. This specimen was called MUCPv-CH1 in 1995 and was described by Salgado and Coria.

The real bones and a reconstruction of the bones is done and for all those who want to see it they can do it visiting the Ernest Bachman Paleontological Museum located in El Chocón. Actually this museum was inaugurated in 1995 and the main masterpiece is the bones of the Giganatosaurus, besides the instruments that were used for the excavation.

The name of this genus takes its meaning from the ancient Greek. The word gigas is nothing but giant, while notos translated into our language means giant, and finally as we have seen on many occasions, saurus is a common prefix that comes to mean lizard.

As far as Giganotosaurus carolinii is concerned, the specific name of this species is a tribute to the surname of the amateur discoverer, Rubén D. Carolini.

When and where did Giganotosaurus live?

We will never know exactly how Giganotosaurus lived, and in order to do so we would have to go back to the past and observe it inside its habitat. Specifically, we would have to go back about 97 million years.

This belongs to the Cretaceous Period (the last of the dinosaurs) and the Upper Period (also the last epoch). If we specify more, it would have lived in the Turonian Age, which is the second Age of the Upper Period. In conclusion, Giganotosaurus lived in the Upper Cretaceous Turonian.

The remains of this genus were discovered in the Candeleros Formation, this formation includes the remains of maximum 99.6 million years ago. In the same formation it could be found that the area would have been in a zone of rivers and streams, a zone with a lot of wind and that can also be associated to a swamp area.

What did Giganotosaurus eat?

Giganotosaurus had a carnivorous diet, since they fed on other animals. This genus is really fast and above all big enough to have had problems in hunting a prey. That is why it would not have had any main prey, but would have fed on all those that were around its habitat.

The teeth of Giganotosaurus were characteristic of the carcharodontosaurid family, it had flat and sharp teeth. This would have allowed it to hunt and bite its prey alive to death in order to feed on them. In addition, thanks to its teeth, it could have easily bitten and chewed the meat of its prey.