Jem Stansfield enters the amazing world of Planet Dinosaur. Jem goes massive, finding out which was the biggest dinosaur of all in the prehistoric world.
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If you thought you knew all there was to know about dinosaurs,
This is Planet Dinosaur Files,
the series that rewrites the prehistory books.
We're bringing to life
the most awesome beasts ever to walk the earth,
with state-of-the-art CGI technology
that makes you feel like you're right there.
And I'll be discovering
what made these massive, lethal and frankly bizarre beasts tick.
I'll be devising demos to find out what would happen
if you let a massive dinosaur loose in a car park.
This is going to get messy.
In the last 20 years, scientists have discovered more dinosaurs
than in all the centuries that have gone before.
Amazing new discoveries.
They reveal a jaw-dropping cast list of creatures.
and deadlier than we'd ever imagined.
This time on Planet Dinosaur Files,
we're asking the question -
which was the biggest, mightiest,
most massive dinosaur that ever existed?
You might think you know about dinosaurs.
Like the huge, 12-tonne plant-eater,
Or the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex,
a savage predator who dominated half the planet
for almost five million years.
Well, think again.
Prepare to meet the new big dinos on the block.
A massive meat-eater,
as tall as a double-decker bus.
A heavyweight predator.
Or Paralititan, an African giant,
a plant-eater nearly four times the weight of Diplodocus,
longer than a swimming pool.
And the incredible Argentinosaurus,
An awe-inspiring monster,
heavier than a whole herd of elephants.
A truly record-breaking dinosaur.
I'm going to explore just what it takes to be a really big dinosaur.
The biggest dinosaurs could be as long as three railway carriages.
You only get into the prehistoric heavyweight league
by having the tonnage to make the earth shake.
And last but not least, food.
Just what do these staggering mega-monsters eat,
and how much?
Let's meet our first huge beast.
This is Carcharodontosaurus.
Its name means "shark-toothed lizard".
This monster grew up to 13 metres long.
An adult weighed a hefty seven tonnes.
It ruled the roost in North Africa
95 million years ago.
But let's get one thing straight.
In the world of dinosaurs, the ones that grew to stupendous sizes
were vegetarians living on a diet of plants.
Now, the meat-eaters, the carnivores,
they needed to be able to move freely in order to hunt,
so they didn't grow as huge as the plant-eating herbivores.
Carcharodontosaurus was a meat-eater.
But if you're talking about pure meat-eating dinosaurs,
this was one of the biggest.
A whole tonne heavier than T-Rex.
And a ravenous killer of that size needs plenty of food.
How much meat did Carcharodontosaurus get through each day?
The amazing answer is that a full-grown Carcharodontosaurus
needed to eat a whopping 60 kilograms of meat every day
just to survive.
That's like having 480 hamburgers every day.
Standing upright on its two muscle-bound legs,
Carcharodontosaurus was taller than a giraffe.
But, amazingly for such a large beast,
we've recently discovered that it could really move it too.
Over short distances, this hunter's explosively powerful legs
could get it running up to 20 mph.
That meant it could outrun lighter prey, like this Ouranosaurus.
With speed and power combined,
Carcharodontosaurus was the monster truck of the dinosaur world.
So, where in the world would you have found one of these ruthless killers?
Well, most of the 95 million-year-old Carcharodontosaurus bones
have been found in various sites across North Africa.
Life for these big killers was a constant battle.
For dominance over other Carcharodontosaurs.
But how can we tell this kind of head-to-head battle went on?
By closely looking at the evidence, that's how.
This is a recently-discovered lower jawbone.
It came from a meat-eating dinosaur.
It's big, nearly half a metre long.
And the exciting bit...
two bite marks.
The size and shape of the tooth marks
show that another dinosaur of the same species
had sunk its teeth into this jaw.
For a Carcharodontosaur to dominate its patch,
it first had to see off rival Carcharodontosaurs.
And that's often the way it still goes in the wild.
This frilled lizard from Australia has found a good feeding area,
with lots of tasty insects.
So when another male lizard of the same size enters its patch,
..and goes on for a long time.
But when two seven-tonne Carcharodontosaurs went at it,
I wonder what kind of destruction that would cause?
Time to head to the Planet Dinosaur Files workshop,
which this week has gone outdoors.
It's hard to imagine the damage these Carcharodontosauruses would cause
as they throw their weight around.
But to get an idea, we've built...
a Carcharodontosaurus foot.
Now, it's very specifically shaped
to match fossilized footprints that have been found from the real thing.
It's made of steel, not flesh and bone, but hopefully,
it's going to be strong enough for the task ahead.
You see, I want to attach this
to something that can provide the power and weight
that would have been there with a real Carcharodontosaurus.
And this big digger is it.
A huge hydraulic excavator,
35 tonnes of steel on caterpillar tracks.
Rich, the driver, assures me that this enormous excavator
can get my Carcharodontosaurus foot to step down
with the seven tonnes of force
that the real thing would have applied with every stride.
Want to grab the back end? This is heavy, to say the least.
first job is to attach it...
..to this digger.
Now, let's see what kind of impact a dinosaur like this would have had.
I need something else made of steel
for my Carcharodontosaurus foot to tread on.
So I've got myself a scrap car.
Now obviously, they didn't have those 95 million years ago.
But it's here to represent the unfortunate dinosaurs
that may have got in the path of the mighty Carcharodontosaurus.
Right, Rich, can you give this a big seven-tonne stamp?
Erm, it didn't really stand a chance,
and I think that's probably what a lot of dinosaurs
that hung around North Africa 95 million years ago felt,
because weight is a massive advantage in the battle for dominance.
And the Carcharodontosaurus carried a lot of weight.
And this one's angry.
I'm not sure that's the kind of thing covered by car insurance.
So that's Carcharodontasaurus.
A savage, heavyweight carnivore that dominated North Africa.
For length, this beast was even longer than the mighty T-Rex,
at 13 metres.
Weight-wise, a really hefty carnivore,
seven tonnes of bone and muscle.
And food? Well, this fella gobbled up
an amazing 60 kilos of meat every day.
But is Carcharodontosaurus the biggest dinosaur ever?
No. Not by a long way.
Because now we're entering the super-heavyweight class,
and that means plant-eaters.
Carcharodontosaurus was huge for a meat-eater,
but in our search for the biggest dinosaur on the prehistoric block,
we've got much, much bigger giants to show you,
like this monster.
This is Paralititan.
Its name means "tidal giant",
and this huge lumbering beast was a kind of dinosaur called a Sauropod.
A four-legged, long-necked dinosaur.
Diplodocus was a Sauropod as well,
and it's this species who top the prehistoric massive league.
Paralititan lived in North Africa
at the same time as Carcharodontosaurus.
But, unlike Carcharodontosaurus, this massive creature was a vegetarian.
Growing up to an amazing 26 metres,
Its salad-only diet didn't stop it reaching a whopping 45 tonnes.
That's nearly four times the weight of a Diplodocus.
Dinosaur experts reckon that Paralititan's daily food intake
was a huge 240 kilos.
That's like 1,000 lettuces every day.
But how do we know they could have grown so big?
By examining the evidence, that's how.
This is a front upper-leg bone of a Paralititan.
It was found in Egypt in 2001,
and measures a gob-smacking 1.69 metres.
That's as tall as a full-grown man.
It's one of a number of Paralititan bones recently discovered
in North Africa, together with a vital piece of extra evidence...
..fossils of prehistoric freshwater fish.
They helped dinosaur detectives work out there was a river here,
and so plenty of vegetation.
Enough to feed a growing Paralititan.
Because Paralititans were so huge,
they didn't have the ability to move at speed like Carcharodontosaurus.
But even travelling at their plodding pace,
their massive bulk meant they could get very hot, very quickly.
So, a constant supply of water
was crucial for the survival of these giants. Without it,
these monsters would be in serious trouble.
In Africa today, elephants also need to keep themselves cool.
An adult elephant will drink at least 100 litres of water every day.
That's like drinking your bath.
Or what about the African buffalo?
They're pretty hefty animals as well.
Adult males can weigh nearly a tonne,
and like elephants, they need water every day to survive.
But these visits to rivers or water holes are fraught with danger.
Hungry predators, like these crocodiles, are stalking the buffalo.
Rewind 95 million years again,
and that's exactly what it was like
for the huge, slow-moving Paralititans.
The predators attacking them may be smaller than they are,
but they're fiercer too.
But of all the deadly threats out there,
the most dangerous for the Paralititan was not these crocodiles.
It's a beast we've already met.
This carnivore is nearly seven times smaller than an adult Paralititan,
so when hunting, it would most likely target the littlest.
As with all species threatened by predators,
it's the small, the young and the weak who are at most risk.
But once the massive adult Paralititans arrive on the scene,
Carcharodontosaurus is soon outmatched.
This is a fight it can't win.
Back to the digger yard, where I'm bigging things up.
I've had to bring in an even larger monster machine,
a 45-tonne excavator, for my next demo.
We've already seen the carnage caused by a Carcharodontosaur,
but what would a Paralititan do if it started treading on things?
To find out that, we've built...
a Paralititan foot.
Now, this is the same size as a real Paralititan's foot would have been.
All we need to do now
is put a Paralititan amount of weight through it.
And for that, we've got this.
A truly stupendously large digger.
Now, what this needs to do
is put 22-and-a-half tonnes of force down through that foot,
because, when a 45-tonne Paralititan's walking along,
that's the kind of force that's going to go through its feet.
To make sure we've got the right force, we've built this gauge.
Now, that's your seven-tonne Carcharodontosaur,
and this is where we need to get it to for the Paralititan.
And what's it going to tread on?
Well, this time, it's going to be treading on two cars.
Cos if a Carcharodontosaur makes a mess of one car,
I'd be intrigued to see what a Paralititan does to two.
Carcharodontosaurus's foot was impressive.
So how will Paralititan do?
A dinosaur like Paralititan
moves much more slowly than a Carcharodontosaur,
but once that huge weight starts having an impact,
the forces unleashed are unbelievable.
Look at that!
It just crushes cars like grapes!
The first car's nearly disappeared into the second,
and it's just a mass of metal.
If a Paralititan strolls through a scrapyard, it ruins everything.
So that's Paralititan.
Meat was off the menu for this North African giant.
For length, this was the biggest dinosaur on its patch,
an amazing 26 metres long.
There aren't many scales that could take this 45-tonne monster.
Well, this huge herbivore gobbled up 240 kilos of plants every day.
But as enormous as Paralititan was,
we've got another, even more astonishing new dinosaur discovery.
It was in South America
that the bones of a plant-eating dinosaur were recently discovered.
It looks a bit like Paralititan,
but it was even bigger.
This is Argentinosaurus.
It lived around the same time as Paralititan and Carcharodontosaurus,
but not in Africa.
Its bones have been found in South America, in what is now Argentina.
The largest Argentinosaurs
would stretch longer than two articulated lorries,
an incredible 35 metres.
They could weigh as much as 75 tonnes.
Unbelievably, that's about the same weight as 2,000 ten-year-old kids.
Being so big meant that any other dinosaur
that got too close to Argentinosaurus could be in real danger.
Its steps were so heavy
that in swampy ground, everywhere it trod would turn immediately
into treacherous, deadly quicksand.
It's almost impossible to comprehend the size of these enormous creatures.
Maybe this Argentinosaurus leg bone could help you get an idea.
It weighs half a tonne.
It's one of many found in Argentina in 1993.
Just that single lower-leg bone,
which would be the shin bone for a human, is, incredibly,
taller than an average 13-year-old.
Or, to put it another way,
a fully-grown Argentinosaur weighed as much as ten elephants.
But for me, the most amazing thing about these massive plant-eaters
is the rate at which they grew.
When they first hatched, they only weighed about five kilos.
That's pretty much the same as a one-month old baby.
But after 40 years of growth,
they could end up being a staggering 15,000 times that size.
And at their peak, they were putting on 40 kilos every day.
The big question is - how were they able to grow so fast?
The answer is by eating.
An African elephant
has to eat for an astonishing 18 hours a day to keep going.
In that time, it gets through 100 kilos of vegetation.
That's about the same as 200 cabbages.
But to get into the Argentinosaurus feeding league,
you need to think much, much bigger.
On a typical day, these dinosaurs ate an unbelievable 340 kilos of food.
That's more than three times the amount an elephant would eat
in the same period.
Everything about it is geared to getting in as much food as possible,
with the least amount of effort.
Starting with the neck.
Just like a giraffe, it's very long,
so they can reach the plants they need to eat.
It's like reaching over to the fridge for a snack
without having to get off the sofa.
But the way Argentinosaurus eats is just as important.
Its table manners are terrible!
Gulping down all its food whole.
Chemicals in their vast stomachs
helped these giants digest all that grub
without wasting energy by chewing.
Back at my dino digger yard, we're going massive.
But just how massive?
Now remember, an adult Argentinosaur is around 75 tonnes,
nearly twice the weight of a Paralititan.
So we're giving it a bigger job to do.
Still two vehicles, but the bottom one is a very sturdy American Jeep.
Now, if you're a 75-tonne animal,
you're going to need very big feet to support yourself.
Feet this big.
This is an Argentinosaur-sized foot.
It is truly massive.
As you can see, the Paralititan foot fits wholly within it.
Now what we've got to do
is put an Argentinosaur amount of weight through it,
which we reckon would be about 37 and a half tonnes
as it strolled along.
Rich is going to do that.
I'm going to get out the way.
Carcharodontosaur's foot was savage.
Paralititan's was a crushing destroyer.
How will Argentinosaurus do,
now that there's a tough, one-and-a-half-tonne Jeep in its way?
There we go! 37 and a half tonnes!
Like the massive footfall of the Argentinosaurus,
and look what it's done to those cars.
Completely destroyed. The sturdy American jeep, it's gone.
That's amazing. Those cars, honestly,
there's practically nothing structurally left of them.
This huge herbivore
really had the most destructive feet of any creature to walk the planet.
And when other dinosaurs got in its way,
that enormous weight could do an awful lot of damage.
So that's Argentinosaurus,
a dinosaur heavier than the total weight
of all the children in a typical primary school.
But how does it compare with our other big beasts?
There was Carcharodontosaurus.
A powerhouse combining size and speed.
For length, it was longer than T-Rex, at 13 metres.
Weight? This chunky carnivore tipped the scales at a hefty seven tonnes.
Well, this greedy beast guzzled 60 kilos of raw meat every day.
Then, the mighty Paralititan.
A humungous herbivore that packed as much punch as a herd of hippos.
Length? This was the longest dinosaur in Africa, at 26 metres.
Weight-wise, this monster was a massive 45 tonnes.
And daily food intake?
Well, Paralititan put away
an amazing 240 kilos of plants.
And finally, the colossal Argentinosaurus.
A dinosaur almost unimaginably huge.
For length, it was an astonishing 35 metres long.
It would pulverise anything in its path.
A staggering 75 tonnes.
This fella would win every eating contest going in the dinosaur world,
gobbling up 340 kilos of grub each day.
This was a gargantuan plant-eater
that ruled South America 95 million years ago.
Dinosaurs dominated the planet for 160 million years.
Many of these creatures were truly enormous.
But for sheer size and weight, there is one dinosaur
who stands quite literally head and shoulders above the others.
It was not only the biggest dinosaur of all,
but the largest creature ever to walk the earth.
Next time on Planet Dinosaur Files,
we take to the air
to meet some amazing prehistoric flyers,
and discover just how good those wings really were.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Jem Stansfield goes massive, finding out which was the biggest dinosaur of all in the prehistoric world. Jem builds his very own set of huge dinosaur feet and, with the help of a 45-tonne hydraulic excavator, unleashes the enormous force of these incredible creatures.