(Huge bodied lizard).
Named By: P. Yadagiri & K. Ayyasami - 1989.
Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Dinosauria, Saurischia, Sauropoda, Titanosauria?
Species: B. matleyi (type).
Size: Uncertain since original fossils are now gone and estimates vary considerably.
Known locations: India - Kallemedu Formation.
Time period: Early Maastrichtian of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Description based upon hip, and leg bones, but these are now lost to science and only the original description and line drawings remain.
it was named in 1989, the dinosaur genus Bruhathkayosaurus
attained almost mythical status. The original description of the
bones of this dinosaur were originally interpreted as belonging to a
theropod dinosaur, though later study of the description has led
readers to conclude that the remains were actually of a titanosaurid
sauropod, and an impressively large one at that.
tibia of Bruhathkayosaurus was two meters long,
centimetres longer than the tibia of Argentinosaurus
which is confirmed
as one of the largest dinosaurs ever. However there is one major
problem with the fossils of Bruhathkayosaurus:
they no longer exist.
There are reports that not long after the discovery of the Bruhathkayosaurus fossils, the fossils were swept away and lost in a monsoon. On top of this, no diagnostic characteristics were identified or described in the original description. The only representation for what the original fossils look like is in the form of line drawings that were made of them. What this leaves us with is a claim for one of the largest dinosaurs ever that cannot in anyway be substantiated, making Bruhathkayosaurus one of the most dubious of all the dubious genera of dinosaurs.
This is not actually the first time that what might have been the biggest dinosaur ever has had fossils that disappeared. In 1878 the famous American palaeontologist Edward Drinker Cope named Amphicoelias based upon the description of unusually large vertebrae and limbs that bore a resemblance to the fossils of Diplodocus, but greater in scale. Somehow, and at the time of writing no one knows how, these massive fossils have been lost, leaving only detailed drawings and a written description of the bones. Many still question the validity of Amphicoelias, with some suggesting that Cope may have incorrectly measured the fossils, to other theories. But in Amphicoelias there is at least a more detailed description that might allow for new fossils to be attributed to the genus. The loss can also be explained as some kind of storage error as a result to of the huge number of fossils that Cope was dealing with. Remember that Cope was one of the two main figures of the ‘Bone Wars’ and fossils were collected and stored in such great amounts that palaeontologists are still sifting through and cataloguing some of this fossils today, almost one hundred and fifty years after they were collected.
Back to Bruhathkayosaurus and things are far more uncertain. It is not unknown for fossils to be lost and destroyed by environmental factors before they can be discovered, but when fossils that are supposed to represent one of the most ground breaking dinosaur discoveries ever made, it causes many to question if they ever actually existed. There has at least been some speculation that incredibly long shin bones of Bruhathkayosaurus may have actually been the fossilised remnants of tree trunks. Because only line drawings of the original fossils remain, estimates for the size of Bruhathkayosaurus can vary wildly, ranging anything from thirty up to forty-five meters long, or even longer. Thirty to thirty-five meters long would certainly be plausible given that we know of other sauropods of various that that could reach that, such as Argentinosaurus, Supersaurus and Diplodocus. Beyond this though and fossils are certainly required before other people will believe how big something was.
- A carnosaurian dinosaur from the Kallamedu Formation (Maestrichtian horizon), Tamilnadu. - P. Yadagiri & K. Ayyasami - 1989. - In Symposium on Three Decades of Development in Palaeontology and Stratigraphy in India. Volume 1. Precambrian to Mesozoic. Geological Society of India Special Publication, 11(1): 523-528. - In M.V.A. Sastry, V.V. Sastry, C.G.K. Ramanujam, H.M. Kapoor, B.R. Jagannatha Rao, P.P. Satsangi, and U.B. Mathur (eds.) - 1989.