Named By: Gregory S. Paul - 1988.
Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Dinosauria, Saurischia, Sauropodomorpha, Sauropoda, Titanosauriformes, Brachiosauridae.
Species: G. brancai (type).
Size: Approximately 26 meters long.
Known locations: Africa, Tanzania - Tendaguru Formation.
Time period: Kimmeridgian to Tithonian of the Jurassic.
Fossil representation: Several partial skeletons.
was originally named as an African species of Brachiosaurus.
named in 1914 by Werner Janensch as Brachiosaurus
subsequent study of the fossil material would reveal several
morphological differences between B. brancai and
type species B. altithorax. This has led to the
modern name of
Giraffatitan, a play on the resemblance to a
giraffe. Although some
were dubious of the naming at first, a complete study published in
2009 by Michael Taylor has pointed out that while similar to
Brachiosaurus, Giraffatitan is
a completely different animal.
Although Giraffatitian is phylogenetically different from Brachiosaurus, it probably did have a very similar lifestyle as a high browser. The arrangement of spatulate teeth would have been very efficient at cropping the soft foliage from the tops of the Jurassic trees.
The exact position of the nasal holes of Giraffatitian are not known for certain because there are no dedicated holes in the skull that would reveal the rough size like in other animals. The nasal holes were probably carried forward by softer tissue that did not survive the fossilisation process. It has been thought by some that they were supported by a mass of soft tissue.
Some palaeontologists have suggested that the nostrils were further forward the snout and the crest was a support for a resonating chamber. If correct this would have amplified the calls of Giraffatitan allowing for stronger communication between others of the same species, perhaps for attracting a mate, displaying herd dominance between rivals or even keeping in touch with distant herd members.
- Übersicht über der Wirbeltierfauna der Tendaguru-Schichten nebst einer kurzen Charakterisierung der neu aufgeführten Arten von Sauropoden. - Archiv für Biontologie, 3 (1): 81–110. - W. Janensch - 1914.
- 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. - Hunteria 2(3):1-14. - G. S. Paul - 1988.
- A Re-evaluation of Brachiosaurus altithorax Riggs 1903 (Dinosauria, Sauropod) and its generic separation from Giraffatitan brancai (Janensch 1914). - Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 29(3): 787-806. - M. P. Taylor - 2009.