Titanomachya: The Small Sauropod from Patagonia’s Late Cretaceous

Titanomachya: The Small Sauropod from Patagonia’s Late Cretaceous

Titanomachya is a fascinating titanosaur (a group of sauropod) from the Late Cretaceous Period of Patagonia, Argentina. This relatively small dinosaur (compared to other titanosaurs from the same age) was discovered in the early 2000’s and provides valuable insights into the diversity of the group during this era. It was formally described recently (April 2024) and we present in this article the few results highlighted in the publication. 

Titanomachya Key Facts

Meaning of nameBattle of the Titans
Type SpeciesTitanomachya gimenezi
When it Lived72.1 to 66.0 MYA
PeriodLate Cretaceous
Length20.0 ft
Height5.5 ft at the shoulders
Weight6.4 to 10.8 tons
MobilityMoved on four legs
First Discovery2000’s by Diego Pol and team
Described by2024 by Agustín Pérez-Moreno, Leonardo Salgado, José Carballido, Alejandro Otero, and Diego Pol
HolotypeMPEF Pv 11547
Location of first findLa Colonia Formation, Chubut Province, Patagonia, Argentina

Titanomachya Origins, Taxonomy, and Timeline

Titanomachya’s name, derived from the Greek Titanomachy, a mythological battle of the Olympians against the Titans, fittingly represents its existence near the end of the titanosaurs’ reign. The genus Titanomachya includes the type species Titanomachya gimenezi only, named in honor of the late Dr. Olga Giménez, the first female paleontologist to study dinosaurs from the Chubut Province.

Titanomachya: The Small Sauropod from Patagonia's Late Cretaceous. Discover Titanomachya, the Small but Significant Sauropod from Patagonia’s Late Cretaceous Period. Learn about its discovery, fossils, and features.
UnexpectedDinoLesson, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Taxonomically, Titanomachya belongs to the Sauropoda and the Saltasauroidea (a derived clade of titanosaur). The titanosaurs are known for their large and massive bodies, but the saltasaurids were generally smaller.

Titanomachya lived during the Late Cretaceous Period, specifically in the Maastrichtian (72.1 to 66.0 million years ago). The end of the Maastrichtian is characterized by the extinction of all non-avian dinosaurs during the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction. This timeline situates it within a dynamic and changing environment, contributing to our understanding of sauropod diversity and adaptation during this era.

Discovery & Fossil Evidence

The first fossils of Titanomachya were uncovered in the early 2000’s by a team led by Diego Pol in the La Colonia Formation, Chubut Province, Patagonia, Argentina. This Formation is part of the north of the Cerro Bayo area. The fossils excavated include partial forelimbs and hindlimbs, ribs, the astragalus, part of the pelvic bones and a caudal vertebra. These well-preserved fossils provide insights into its physical characteristics and classification (especially the astragalus). No skull nor parts of the upper body were preserved. All bones belong to the same specimen and no other individuals have been reported to this date (July 2024).

In 2024, the species was formally described by Agustín Pérez-Moreno, Leonardo Salgado, José Carballido, Alejandro Otero, and Diego Pol. The holotype, catalogued as MPEF Pv 11547, remains the primary and only reference for studying Titanomachya

The discovery of Titanomachya’s fossils is notable for their exceptional preservation, enabling scientists to analyze various anatomical features and understand the evolutionary adaptations of sauropods in this region.

Titanomachya Size and Description

Short description of Titanomachya

Titanomachya was a relatively small, quadrupedal sauropod characterized by its compact size and robust build. Its body was designed to support its weight efficiently, with strong limbs and a sturdy frame. The shape of the astragalus gave hints on the body mass, and its symmetrical articular surfaces were one of the characteristics utilized to introduce Titanomachya as a new species (autapomorphy).

The forelimbs and hindlimbs bones were robust and thick with large muscular attachment areas, indicating powerful support and movement capabilities. The tail, though not as long as those of larger Sauropods, likely served as a counterbalance, aiding in stability.

Size and Weight of Type Species

Titanomachya gimenezi, the type species, is among the smaller titanosaurs discovered. His body mass was calculated thanks to the quadratic equations for quadruped of Campione (2017), and presented in the original publication of Pérez-Moreno et al., 2024.

Weighing between 65.79 to 9.79 tons, Titanomachya was a light weight for his group, as titanosaurs rarely weighed less than 10 tons. Measuring approximately 20.0 feet in length and standing about 5.5 feet tall at the shoulders, it had a similar size to Saltasaurus, but was heavier. Titanomachya was compact yet sturdy. 

These measurements highlight the unique nature of Titanomachya, illustrating its role as a smaller, yet essential, herbivore in the Late Cretaceous ecosystem. Its size and strength allowed it to thrive in a competitive environment, feeding on vegetation that sustained its body.

Phylogenetic position of Titanomachya

Titanomachya places as a dereived Titanosauria, among the Saltasauroidea. The taxon is a member of the Lithostrotia, a clade that includes Saltasaurus and Rapetosaurus, and with Malawisaurus as the earliest-diverging member. Titanomachya is placed at the base of the node including Saltasaurus and Neuquensaurus, alongside Rapetosaurus and Opisthocoelicaudia.

Contemporary Dinosaurs

One of the dinosaurs that shared the landscape with Titanomachya was Carnotaurus, also from the Chubut Province of Argentina. This large theropod was a fearsome predator, with its distinct horns and powerful build. The presence of Carnotaurus alongside Titanomachya suggests a dynamic predator-prey relationship, highlighting the complexity of their ecosystem.

Present in this period was Dreadnoughtus, another saltasaurid but larger than Titanomachya. Dreadnoughtus, with its colossal size, likely occupied a different ecological niche compared to the smaller Titanomachya. While both herbivorous, they were not likely in competition in their feeding behaviors. Their coexistence indicates a diverse herbivorous community, each species adapting to specific feeding strategies and vegetation.

Another dinosaur that lived alongside Titanomachya is Noasaurus. This smaller theropod, agile and lightweight, likely preyed on small animals and possibly scavenged. Its presence alongside Titanomachya and other herbivores underscores the varied predator-prey dynamics within this ecosystem.

Secernosaurus, a hadrosaurid, also coexisted with Titanomachya. Being of similar size to Titanomachya, they might had to share their feeding habitats. The presence of Secernosaurus highlights the rich and varied plant life in the region, supporting multiple herbivorous species with different dietary preferences.

Interesting Points about Titanomachya

Titanomachya in its Natural Habitat

Titanomachya thrived in the lush environments of Late Cretaceous Patagonia. The climate during this period was warm and seasonal, with distinct wet and dry periods that influenced vegetation growth and water availability. This diverse habitat supported a wide variety of plant life, including ferns, conifers, and flowering plants, providing ample food sources for herbivores like Titanomachya.

Restoration of Titanomachya in its environment
SpinoDragon145, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As a herbivore, Titanomachya primarily fed on low to mid-level vegetation, utilizing its strong limbs and flexible neck to reach various plants. It had peg-like teeth well-suited for stripping vegetation, making it an efficient feeder. Moving on four sturdy legs, it was capable of navigating through dense foliage in search of food.

Socially, Titanomachya may have lived in small herds, a common behavior among herbivorous dinosaurs for protection and social interaction. Herding would have provided safety in numbers, particularly against large predators like Carnotaurus. The dinosaur’s keen senses, including sharp vision and possibly a good sense of smell, would have helped it detect food and danger.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the name Titanomachya mean?

The name Titanomachya means “Battle of the Titans,” symbolizing its proximity to the extinction of Titanosaurs.

When did Titanomachya live?

Titanomachya lived during the Late Cretaceous Period, approximately 72.1 to 66.0 million years ago.

What did Titanomachya eat?

Titanomachya was a herbivore, primarily feeding on low to mid-level vegetation such as ferns, conifers, and flowering plants.

How large was Titanomachya?

Titanomachya measured approximately 20.0 feet in length, stood about 5.5 feet tall at the shoulders, and weighed between 6.4 to 10.8 tons.

What kind of environment did Titanomachya live in?

Titanomachya thrived in a warm, seasonal climate with diverse plant life, including ferns, conifers, and flowering plants, providing ample food sources for herbivores.


The information in this article is based on various sources, drawing on scientific research, fossil evidence, and expert analysis. The aim is to provide a comprehensive and accurate overview of Titanomachya.

Article last fact checked: Joey Arboleda, 07–04-2024

Featured Image Credit: UnexpectedDinoLesson, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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