Futalognkosaurus (ˌfuːtəlɒŋkɵˈsɔrəs; meaning "giant chief lizard") is a genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 of titanosaur
Titanosaurs were a diverse group of sauropod dinosaurs, which included Saltasaurus and Isisaurus. It includes some of the heaviest creatures ever to walk the earth, such as Argentinosaurus and Paralititan — which some believe have weighed up to 100 tonnes...

ian dinosaur
Dinosaurs are a diverse group of animals of the clade and superorder Dinosauria. They were the dominant terrestrial vertebrates for over 160 million years, from the late Triassic period until the end of the Cretaceous , when the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event led to the extinction of...

. The herbivorous
Herbivores are organisms that are anatomically and physiologically adapted to eat plant-based foods. Herbivory is a form of consumption in which an organism principally eats autotrophs such as plants, algae and photosynthesizing bacteria. More generally, organisms that feed on autotrophs in...

 Futalognkosaurus lived approximately 87 million years ago in the Coniacian
The Coniacian is an age or stage in the geologic timescale. It is a subdivision of the Late Cretaceous epoch or Upper Cretaceous series and spans the time between 89.3 ± 1 Ma and 85.8 ± 0.7 Ma...

 stage of the late Cretaceous Period. The fish and fossilized leaf debris on the site, together with other dinosaur remains, suggest a warm tropical climate in Patagonia
Patagonia is a region located in Argentina and Chile, integrating the southernmost section of the Andes mountains to the southwest towards the Pacific ocean and from the east of the cordillera to the valleys it follows south through Colorado River towards Carmen de Patagones in the Atlantic Ocean...

 during this period.


Its fossils were found in the Neuquén
Neuquén Province
Neuquén is a province of Argentina, located in the west of the country, at the northern end of Patagonia. It borders Mendoza Province to the north, Rio Negro Province to the southeast, and Chile to the west...

 province of Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 in 2000, and were scientifically described in 2007. The genus name is derived from the local indigenous language Mapudungun
The Mapuche language, Mapudungun is a language isolate spoken in south-central Chile and west central Argentina by the Mapuche people. It is also spelled Mapuzugun and sometimes called Mapudungu or Araucanian...

 and is pronounced foo-ta-long-koh-sohr-us: "futa" means "giant" and "lognko" means "chief". It is based on three fossil specimens, yielding an estimated 70% of the skeleton in total. The fossil team described the find as "the most complete giant dinosaur known so far".


The type species
Type species
In biological nomenclature, a type species is both a concept and a practical system which is used in the classification and nomenclature of animals and plants. The value of a "type species" lies in the fact that it makes clear what is meant by a particular genus name. A type species is the species...

, Futalognkosaurus dukei, is estimated to be between 32 and 34 meters (105–111 ft) in length, rivaling the gigantic Argentinosaurus
Argentinosaurus is a genus of titanosaur sauropod dinosaur first discovered by Guillermo Heredia in Argentina. The generic name refers to the country in which it was discovered...

. Its long neck contained 14 vertebrae, and was over a meter deep in places, due to its extremely tall neural spines which had a distinctive "shark-fin" shape. The hips were also extremely large and bulky, reaching a width of nearly 3 meters. The alternate early spelling "Futalongkosaurus" may be found in some press reports and on websites.


In their phylogenetic analysis, Calvo and colleagues found Futalognkosaurus to be a member of the Titanosauridae (or Lithostrotia, depending on the definitions being used), and most closely related to Mendozasaurus
Mendozasaurus is a genus of sauropod dinosaur. It was a member of Titanosauria, which were massive sauropods that were common on the southern landmasses during the Cretaceous period....

. They defined a new clade
A clade is a group consisting of a species and all its descendants. In the terms of biological systematics, a clade is a single "branch" on the "tree of life". The idea that such a "natural group" of organisms should be grouped together and given a taxonomic name is central to biological...

 for the group containing both Futalognkosaurus and Mendozasaurus, their common ancestor, and all descendants, which they named the Lognkosauria
Lognkosauria is a group of giant long-necked sauropod dinosaurs within the clade Titanosauria, and includes some of the largest and heaviest dinosaurs to ever walk the earth.-Defining characteristics:...

. The authors found Malawisaurus
Malawisaurus was a genus of sauropod dinosaur . It lived in what is now Africa, specifically Malawi, during the Aptian age of the Early Cretaceous Period. It is one of the few titanosaurs for which skull material has been found.It was named by Louis L. Jacobs and colleagues, and was originally...

to be the sister group of this new clade. Another, much later member of Lognkosauria is the colossal Puertasaurus
Puertasaurus is a genus of titanosaurid sauropod that appeared during the Late Cretaceous. It lived in what is now Patagonia. The type species, Puertasaurus reuili, is named in honor of Pablo Puerta and Santiago Reuil, the co-discoverers in January 2001 of the specimen...

, which may be the biggest dinosaur so far known. Besides Futalognkosaurus, other fauna
Fauna or faunæ is all of the animal life of any particular region or time. The corresponding term for plants is flora.Zoologists and paleontologists use fauna to refer to a typical collection of animals found in a specific time or place, e.g. the "Sonoran Desert fauna" or the "Burgess shale fauna"...

 was discovered in the Futalognko site, including two further undescribed sauropod taxa, specimens of Megaraptor
Megaraptor is a genus of large theropod dinosaur that lived in the Coniacian stage of the Late Cretaceous. Its fossils have been discovered in the Patagonian region of Argentina...

, Unenlagia
Unenlagia is a genus of, possibly dromaeosaurid, theropod dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Argentina....

and some pleurodira
The Pleurodira are one of the two living suborders of turtles, the other being the Cryptodira. In many cases in the nomenclature of animals, ranks such as suborder are considered of little importance apart from nomenclatural or taxonomic reasons. However, this is not the case with the suborders of...

n turtles

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