Tricky Question – What is the biggest Dinosaur known from Europe?

Team members at Everything Dinosaur are used to fielding lots of dinosaur related questions.  Every day we receive letters, emails and even faxes with prehistoric puzzlers on them.  We try to answer them all as best we can, but sometimes a question can pose some problems such as the one we received from a primary school recently related to dinosaurs and geography.

Everything Dinosaur – Answering Questions and Providing Information

A group of Key Stage II students and their teacher had been working on a dinosaur topic for the latter part of the Christmas term.  As part of the scheme of work the teacher and her class had prepared a map of the world as it looks today, but placed dinosaurs on the map to indicate where fossils of these creatures had been found.  This chart was then put on the classroom wall, making up part of their dinosaur themed display.  Stegosaurus and T. rex were placed in North America, Edmontonia in Canada, Microraptor in China and so on.  However, from this project a number of questions were raised by the children.  By referring to reference books and such like, the class was able to answer most of the conundrums that had been posed.  However, for some of the more tricky ones they turned to the experts at Everything Dinosaur for help.

Biggest European Dinosaur

When looking a European dinosaurs, the children wanted to know the name of the largest dinosaur found to date, on that continent.  This led to quite a debate amongst our team members, but after a discussion we agreed that we should put forward the sauropod Turiasaurus (pronounced Tur-ee-oh-sore-us), a dinosaur whose fragmentary fossils were found in Spain in 2006.   Although only a few fossils were found the 1.8 metre long humerus (upper arm bone) indicates a colossal creature,  perhaps more than 35 metres long.  Scientists are uncertain as to whether this animal was a diplodocid like Apatosaurus or a member of the Macronaria like Brachiosaurus, or perhaps it represents an entirely different type of long-necked dinosaur, but it may have weighed as much as eight fully-grown African elephants.

Giant Sauropods Tend to Dwarf other Dinosaur Skeletons

Sauropod skeleton (cast) on display.

A sauropod (diplodocid) skeleton exhibit on display at the Frankfurt Natural History Museum (Naturmuseum Senckenberg). Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.  The biggest dinosaur from Europe was a member of the Sauropoda. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

We think that Turiasaurus would be a contender for the title of Europe’s largest dinosaur discovered to date.  One of the problems with palaeontology, is that it is always moving forward.  New discoveries can turn accepted doctrine and theory upside down and whilst the public might get excited about the biggest or the fiercest dinosaurs, only a small portion or the overall research undertaken by scientists is dedicated to answering these specific questions.

For models of sauropod dinosaurs, as well as replicas of other giant European dinosaurs: Prehistoric Animal and Dinosaur Models.