Dreadnoughtus: The Colossal Titan of the Late Cretaceous

This colossal dinosaur, whose name fittingly means “fears nothing,” roamed the Earth during the Late Cretaceous period. This a time when the planet was teeming with a diverse array of life forms. The Dreadnoughtus, with its massive size and imposing stature, was a testament to the incredible diversity and scale of life during this period.

As we delve into the world of the Dreadnoughtus, we are not merely exploring the life of a dinosaur. We are embarking on a journey through time by tracing the footsteps of a creature that lived millions of years ago. Each piece of information we uncover, each fact we learn, brings us closer to understanding the world as it was during the Late Cretaceous period. A world that would have been as alien to us as the depths of the ocean or the farthest reaches of space.

Dreadnoughtus Key Facts

Dreadnoughtus pronunciation“dred-NOUGHT-us”
Meaning of name“Fears nothing”
Type SpeciesDreadnoughtus schrani
When it Lived83.6 to 66.0 MYA
PeriodLate Cretaceous
EpochCampanian to Maastrichtian
Length85.0 ft
Height37.4 ft
Weight65.0 tons
MobilityMoved on all four
First Discovery2005 by Kenneth Lacovara
Location of first findSanta Cruz Province, Argentina
First Described by2014 by Kenneth Lacovara
HolotypePU 21883

Dreadnoughtus Origins, Taxonomy and Timeline

Explore the Dreadnoughtus, a gigantic dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous period. Learn about its discovery, unique features, and its environment.

The name Dreadnoughtus, which translates to “fears nothing,” is a fitting moniker for this colossal dinosaur. The name is derived from the English word ‘dreadnought,’ which refers to a type of battleship that was popular in the early 20th century. These battleships were known for their large size and formidable firepower, much like this dinosaur.

In terms of taxonomic classification, it belongs to the family Titanosauria. This family includes some of the largest dinosaurs that ever lived, and Dreadnoughtus is no exception. The sole species of this genus is Dreadnoughtus schrani, named after American entrepreneur Adam Schran who helped finance the research.

This herbivorous dinosaur lived during the Late Cretaceous period, in the very latest epoch before the dinosaurs’ extinction. Despite this tumultuous time, the Dreadnoughtus thrived and became one of the largest creatures to ever walk the Earth.

Listen to the Pronunciation

Discovery & Fossil Evidence

The first fossils were discovered in 2005 in the Santa Cruz Province of Argentina by Dr. Kenneth Lacovara. The find was significant as it included a nearly complete skeleton, something that is not common in paleontology. The skeleton was remarkably well-preserved and provided paleontologists with a wealth of information about the dinosaur’s anatomy and lifestyle.

Dr. Kenneth J. Lacovara with the skeleton of Dreadnoughtus in his laboratory
ArcaneHalveKnot, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The fossils found were remarkably complete, with more than 70% of the bones–excluding the head–recovered. This level of completeness is rare in the world of paleontology, especially for dinosaurs of this size. The fossils included vertebrae from the neck and tail, ribs, a femur, and a nearly complete right forelimb. The quality and completeness of these fossils have allowed scientists to gain a detailed understanding of this dinosaur’s size, shape, and lifestyle.

Later finds have added to our understanding of this dinosaur, with additional fossils discovered in the same region of Argentina. These finds have helped to confirm the size and shape of the Dreadnoughtus and have provided additional insights into its lifestyle and behavior.

Dreadnoughtus Size and Description

This giant is a perfect example of the sheer scale of life during the Late Cretaceous period. This dinosaur was a true titan–a creature of such size and strength that it has few parallels in the natural world. But what did it look like and how did it live? Let’s delve into the details.

Short description of Dreadnoughtus

This dinosaur was a sauropod. This group of dinosaurs was known for their large size, long necks, and long tails. Its body was massive and robust, built to support its enormous weight. Its head was small compared to its body with a long neck that allowed it to reach vegetation that other animals couldn’t. The dinosaur’s tail was also long and likely used for balance as it moved on all fours. Its skin was likely thick and rough to provide protection from predators and the elements.

Size and Weight of Type Species

Dreadnoughtus size
Steveoc 86 and Kevin Yan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The size is truly awe-inspiring. While exact measurements can vary depending on the specific specimen and the method used to estimate size, it’s clear that this dinosaur was one of the largest creatures to ever walk the Earth.

Based on the fossils discovered, it is estimated to have been about 85 feet long and weighed around 65 tons. To put that in perspective, that’s longer than a semi-trailer and heavier than nine African elephants! However, it’s worth noting that these are estimates and the actual size of the Dreadnoughtus could have varied.

The Dinosaur in Detail

This dinosaur is a miracle of natural engineering–a creature perfectly adapted to its environment and lifestyle. Its size alone sets it apart from most other dinosaurs but it’s the details of its anatomy and behavior that truly make it unique.

One of its most notable features is its long neck. It moved on all four legs, with the front legs being slightly shorter than the back ones. This posture meant it would have held this long neck out in front of it horizontally. Despite its massive size, it’s likely that it was a relatively slow mover. A huge body such as this requires a lot of energy to move quickly.

This size wasn’t just for show. Its massive body would have provided it with a number of advantages. Its size would have deterred most predators and its long neck would have allowed it to feed on vegetation that other animals couldn’t reach. These features, combined with its likely slow metabolism, would have made it a highly successful herbivore.

Dreadnoughtus in its Natural Habitat

This dinosaur lived in what is now Argentina during the Late Cretaceous period. This was a time when the climate was warm and the environment was lush and verdant. This environment would have been ideal for this large herbivore, providing it with plenty of food and relatively few threats.

It was likely a solitary animal that moved slowly through the forests and plains of its environment in search of food. Its diet would have consisted primarily of plants, with its long neck allowing it to reach vegetation that other animals couldn’t. Despite its massive size, the Dreadnoughtus was likely a relatively peaceful creature that used its size and strength more for deterrence than aggression. Its impact on its environment would have been significant. Its feeding would have shaped the vegetation of its habitat and its movements would have affected the landscape. 

Interesting Points about Dreadnoughtus

  1. This is one of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered with an estimated length of 85 feet and a weight of 65 tons.
  2. It was an herbivorous dinosaur that fed on the abundant plant life of the Late Cretaceous period.
  3. The fossils found were remarkably complete. The first specimen was a partial skeleton with more than 70% of the bones, excluding the head, recovered.
  4. This dinosaur lived in what is now Argentina during the Late Cretaceous period–a time when the climate was warm and the environment was lush and verdant.
  5. Its size would have deterred most predators and its long neck would have allowed it to feed on vegetation that other animals couldn’t reach.

Contemporary Dinosaurs

In the vast prehistoric landscapes where the colossal Dreadnoughtus once roamed, a fascinating trio of contemporaries also made their mark. The Noasaurus, Secernosaurus, and Saltasaurus shared this world, their lives intricately woven into the same complex narrative of survival and competition.

The Noasaurus, considerably smaller than the Dreadnoughtus, was a creature of stealth and agility. It’s possible that this nimble predator may have darted around the feet of the towering Dreadnoughtus. On the other hand, the Secernosaurus was an herbivore like the Dreadnoughtus that likely navigated the same lush vegetation. Its smaller size would have meant it grazed on different plant life, reducing direct competition for resources.

The Saltasaurus, another herbivore, was dwarfed by the Dreadnoughtus. Encased in a protective armor of bony plates, it presents a stark contrast to the unarmored Dreadnoughtus. It’s fascinating to imagine these two massive herbivores, so different yet so similar, navigating the same terrain. Through the exploration of these wildly different dinosaurs, we gain a deeper understanding of the Dreadnoughtus not just as an isolated species, but as a key player in a vibrant and diverse ecosystem.

List Of All Dinosaurs

We have created a list of all dinosaurs we have covered here, sorted across the seven main groups of dinosaurs. We also include information about their type of diet, (omnivore, herbivore or carnivore) and the time they lived.

Frequently Asked Questions

How big was the Dreadnoughtus?

It is estimated to have been about 85 feet long and weighed around 65 tons.

What did it eat?

This dinosaur was a massive herbivore, feeding on the abundant plant life of the Late Cretaceous period.

Where was it found?

The fossils were discovered in what is now Argentina.

How complete are the fossils that have been found?

The fossil record is remarkably complete. The first specimen found was a partial skeleton and further finds have helped fill these gaps.

How did the Dreadnoughtus defend itself?

Its sheer size would have deterred most predators.


Please note that the information in this article is based on various sources, drawing on scientific research, fossil evidence, and expert analysis. We aim to provide a comprehensive and accurate overview of the Dreadnoughtus, but please be aware that our understanding of dinosaurs and their world is constantly evolving as new discoveries are made.

This article was last fact-checked: Joey Arboleda,06-14-2023

Featured Image Credit: Nobu Tamura, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons