This dinosaur called Giraffatitan inhabited the earth more than 150 million years ago, that is during the upper Jurassic period, in what is now the African continent.
The first scientists who studied this dinosaur mistook it for another species of the place, the Brachiosaurus, because of the great resemblance between the two.
But in order for that not to happen to you, we are going to provide you with all sorts of details so that you can get to know him as well as we do
Taxonomy of the Giraffatitan
The taxonomy can be seen below:
- This animal belongs to the Kingdom of Animalia
- It is located within the Filo de Chordata
- The class of this animal is Sauropsida
- As for Superorden, this is Dinosauria
- The Order of this specimen is Saurischia
- This dinosaur belongs to the suborder Sauropodomorpha
- It is located inside the Sauropoda Infraorden
- Within the Family of Brachiosauridae
History of the Giraffatitan
The first fossils from Giraffatitan were found in 1900 in Lindi, Tanzania; they correspond to five almost complete individuals and three skulls.
As we mentioned at the beginning, Giraffatitan was initially confused with Brachiosaurus and it was not until 1991 when George Olshevsky finally confirmed with his study that the differences between both species were sufficient to consider them as independent from each other.
It is true that there were many similarities between the Brachiosaurus and the Giraffatitan, hence the initial error, but there are also differences that were realized after carefully analyzing and comparing almost bone to bone each of the fossils found, where differences were found as that:
The Giraffatitan’s neck is much longer and more robust; while the torso is narrower.
This is only part of a very detailed study that was carried out in 2009 by paleontologist Michael Taylor who works at the University of Bristol, UK.
There was also a mistake about its size: the Giraffatitan was considered to be one of the largest creatures that ever existed. Although with time and new discoveries this leadership was given to other dinosaurs like the Argentinosaurus.
Characteristics of the Giraffatitan
If we were to analyze the shape and structure of this dinosaur and compare it to one of today’s animals, the giraffe would come up. Hence its name, which means “Giant Giraffe”.
In the analysis and comparison carried out in both cases, for example, it was found that the front legs of the two animals are somewhat longer than the hind legs.
But perhaps one of the most striking features of this enormous sauropod is its long, robust neck, which could measure up to 10 meters and in contrast had a relatively short, sturdy tail.
Its skull is very small compared to its body size, yet it had cavities that would allow it to decrease its weight. Something very striking also about the skull is the strange protuberance on the top, which could resemble a crest.
It was a herbivorous dinosaur whose spatulate teeth were adapted to chew and crush the leaves of the trees on which it fed.
It has claws, which are arranged as follows: only one claw on the first toe of its front legs and the others would be on the first three toes of its hind legs.
The first estimates of the dimensions of the Giraffatitan are based on the first fossils found in Tanzania and on display in the Natural History Museum in Berlin, Germany.
This analysis concluded that the Giraffatitan could have been more than 20 meters long, from the tip of its tail to the tip of its head, and a little more than 10 meters high, from the ground to its head, and that it could have weighed about 40 tons.
Although a later finding of a rather incomplete individual concluded that this dinosaur would have had even larger dimensions than those exposed.
Here, they calculated that this dinosaur could have been about 26 meters long, 15 meters high, and weighed about 45 tons.
This difference in size between individuals of the same species leads the paleontological community to wonder whether they were cold-blooded or hot-blooded. And you’ll see why.
Depending on their blood type, hot (endothermic) or cold (poiquilothermic), they would have needed more or less time to reach maturity and consequently their maximum size.
For example, a warm-blooded giraffatitan would reach adulthood at 10 years, while if it were cold-blooded it would be reached at the age of 100!
And this in turn would lead to the amount of food to be ingested. To be hot-blooded, she would have to eat about 200 kilos of vegetables a day, whereas if she were cold-blooded she would not need to eat so much.
Be that as it may, today this fact is a great unknown, although there is another theory regarding the maintenance of body temperature, which is known as gigantothermia.
This theory is based on the relationship between volume and surface. So the bigger the body, the easier it is to maintain a constant temperature.
It seems that for the time being we will be left with the doubt here.
Giraffatitan’s habitat and food
From the morphology and description we have just given you, you can imagine that it fed mainly on the leaves of the treetops, which it reached almost effortlessly.
Unlike other sauropods, the giraffatitan had its neck somewhat upright and not parallel to the ground.
Its diet was based mainly on conifers, ginkgos, ferns and cycads. These are the typical plants that existed in the forests during the Jurassic period.
And although at first it was thought that it lived in the water because of its large dimensions, this idea was finally rejected.
One of the biggest obstacles to living in water would have been its gigantic size, which would have prevented it from breathing normally because of the pressure the water would have put on its body.
Besides, the theory that the ridge had some holes to be able to breathe was not true, so in no case could he have breathed under water as it was also thought.
And finally there are the legs and feet, which are too thin to have allowed him to hold on to the muddy ground, let alone walk, this would have been impossible.
And after reading this you might think that the same thing could happen with the hippopotamus, right? A large animal with narrow legs and feet that moves like a “fish in water”.
Obviously they are not the same dimensions as each other, but there are two compelling reasons why this idea was finally dismissed:
One was the biomechanical study done with a computer.
And the other one was the knowledge of other dinosaurs of even larger sizes that have lived and moved perfectly on earth, as for example is the case of the Argentinosaurus.