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GIRAFFATITAN

a plant-eating brachiosaurid sauropod dinosaur from the Late Jurassic of Tanzania.
giraffatitan.png
Pronunciation: ji-RAF-a-TIE-tan
Meaning: Giant Giraffe
Author/s: Paul (1988)
Synonyms: See below
First Discovery: Lindi, Tanzania
Chart Position: 268

Giraffatitan brancai

For almost a century, Giraffatitan was Brachiosaurus brancai; the African version of everyone's second favourite sauropod from the USA and, funnily enough, the short-snouted, high-skulled colossus that many folks envisage when they think of Brachiosaurus. In 1988, Greg Paul noticed some differences between this African form and the North American name-bearer Brachiosaurus altithorax — mainly the proportions of its vertebrae and more slender build — and created a sub-genus Brachiosaurus (Giraffatitan) brancai. Then George Olshevsky went a step further by announcing a standalone Giraffatitan in 1991 though most experts remained sceptical.

A skull (USNM 5730) found at Felch Quarry 1 in Colorado's Garden Park in 1883 — the one that apparently inspired O.C. Marsh when building his Yale "Brontosaurus" mount in 1931 — was tentatively assigned to Brachiosaurus in 1998 and highlighted further differences between the African and North American forms. But it took a thorough review in which Mike Taylor showed that Giraffatitan and Brachiosaurus differed in size, shape, and proportion of every comparable body part to convince the scientific community that Giraffatitan was its own dinosaur.

Although no longer a species of Brachiosaurus, Giraffatitan is still a brachiosaurid (the Brachiosaurus-anchored family of sauropods who are renowned for their long forelimbs), and based on relatively complete material it's amongst the largest known dinosaurs. The likes of Argentinosaurus, Puertasaurus, and Futalognkosaurus may be bigger but their remains are a bit hit and miss. While the legendary Amphicoelias fragillimus, which may be the largest land animal that has ever lived, is based on a single vertebrae that probably crumbled to dust where it lay... if it ever existed at all.

A twelve metre tall Giraffatitan specimen has pride of place in Berlin's Natural History Museum and is currently the tallest mounted dinosaur skeleton in the world.
Estimations
Timeline:
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Late Jurassic
Stage: Kimmeridgian
Age range: 156-151 mya
Stats:
Est. max. length: 26 meters
Est. max. hip height: 5 meters
Est. max. weight: 30 tons
Diet: Herbivore
Synonyms
Brachiosaurus brancai (Janensch, 1914)
"Abdallahsaurus"
"Blancocerosaurus"
"Ligomasaurus"
"Mtapaisaurus"
"Salimosaurus"
"Wangonisaurus"
References
• Janensch, W. (1914) "Übersicht über der Wirbeltierfauna der Tendaguru-Schichten nebst einer kurzen Charakterisierung der neu aufgeführten Arten von Sauropoden". Archiv für Biontologie, 3 (1): 81–110.
• Paul, G.S. (1988) "The brachiosaur giants of the Morrison and Tendaguru with a description of a new subgenus, Giraffatitan, and a comparison of the world's largest dinosaurs".
• Donald F. Glut (1997) "Brachiosaurus" in "Dinosaurs: The Encyclopedia" . /uk.
• Michael P. Taylor (2009) "A re-evaluation of Brachiosaurus Altithorax (Riggs, 1903) and its generic seperation from Giraffititan Brancai (Janensch, 1914)".
• Àngel Galobart, Maite Suñer & Begoña Poza (2011) "Dinosaurs of Eastern Iberia". /uk.
• Kenneth Carpenter (2006) "Biggest of the Big: A Critical Re-Evaluation of the Mega-Sauropod Amphicoelias fragillimus Cope, 1878".
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "GIRAFFATITAN :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 30th Mar 2017.
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