|An artist's illustration of Maraapunisaurus fragillimus|
Maraapunisaurus is a genus of herbivorous sauropod dinosaur. It it is known only from what has sometimes been estimated to be the largest dinosaur specimen ever discovered, originally named Amphicoelias fragillimus. Based on surviving descriptions of a single fossil bone, scientists have produced numerous size estimates over the years; the largest estimate M. fragillimus to have been the longest known animal at 58 metres (190 feet) in length and with a mass of 122.4 tonnes (120.5 long tons; 134.9 short tons). However, because the only fossil remains were lost at some point after being studied and described in the 1870s, evidence survived only in drawings and field notes.
More recent studies have made a number of suggestions regarding the possibility of such an animal. One analysis of the surviving evidence, and the biological plausibility of such a large land animal, has suggested that the enormous size of this animal were over-estimates due partly to typographical errors in the original 1878 description. However; recently, it was suggested by paleontologist Kenneth Carpenter that the species is a rebbachisaurid, rather than a diplodocid sauropod. He therefore used Limaysaurus instead of Diplodocus as a basis for size estimates. This resulted in a smaller, 30.3 metres (99 feet) animal, and he dismissed the idea that there must have been typographical errors.
History of study
In popular culture
- Maraapunisaurus appeared in the documentary series called Paleoworld in the episode "Earthshakers" when it was still called Amphicoelias fragillimus.