Amphicoelias fragillimus,possibly the biggest terrestrial animal of the history.


Amphicoelias (pronounced /ˌæmfɨˈsiːliəs/, meaning 'doubly hollow', from the Greek amphi: "on both sides", and koilos: "hollow, concave") is a genus of herbivorous sauropod dinosaur that includes what may be the largest dinosaur ever discovered, A. fragillimus. Based on surviving descriptions of a single fossil bone, A. fragillimus may have been the longest known vertebrate at 40–60 meters (131–196 ft) in length, and may have had a mass of up to 122 metric tons (135 short tons), rivaling the heaviest animal known, the Blue Whale. However, because the only fossil remains were lost at some point after being studied and described in the 1870s, evidence survives only in drawings and field notes.

Carpenter examined the paleobiology of giant sauropods, including Amphicoelias, and addresses the question of why this group attained such a huge size. He pointed out that gigantic sizes were reached early in sauropod evolution, with very large sized species present as early as the late Triassic Period, and concluded that whatever evolutionary pressure caused large size was present from the early origins of the group. Carpenter cited several studies of giant mammalian herbivores, such as elephants and rhinoceros, which showed that larger size in plant-eating animals leads to greater efficiency in digesting food. Since larger animals have longer digestive systems, food is kept in digestion for significantly longer periods of time, allowing large animals to survive on lower-quality food sources. This is especially true of animals with a large number of 'fermentation chambers' along the intestine which allow microbes to accumulate and ferment plant material, aiding digestion. Throughout their evolutionary history, sauropod dinosaurs were found primarily in semi-arid, seasonally dry environments, with a corresponding seasonal drop in the quality of food during the dry season. The environment of Amphicoelias was essentially a savanna, similar to the arid environments in which modern giant herbivores are found, supporting the idea that poor-quality food in an arid environment promotes the evolution of giant herbivores. Carpenter argued that other benefits of large size, such as relative immunity from predators, lower energy expenditure, and longer life span, are probably secondary advantages.

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