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Giganotosaurus - the biggest and baddest of ‘em all - makes N. American debut

SHARE Giganotosaurus - the biggest and baddest of ‘em all - makes N. American debut

He's big, he's bad and he's in Philadelphia.

The giganotosaurus - a dinosaur that roamed South America about 100 million years ago and may have been the biggest meat-eater known - was to make its North American debut at the Academy of Natural Sciences.The museum on Friday unveiled the first reconstructed skull of the giganotosaurus discovered in the Patagonia region of Argentina in 1994. A reconstructed skeleton, 80 percent complete, was to be displayed from June 13 to Sept. 14.

The dinosaur lived about 30 million years before tyrannosaurus rex appeared, said paleontologist Rodolfo Coria, who excavated the giganotosaurus.

The specimen excavated by Coria was about 47 feet long, weighed 8 tons and stood 12 feet tall on two legs. T. rex, by comparison, was estimated to be 40 feet to 50 feet long, 5 tons in weight and 10 feet tall.

Whether giganotosaurus was meaner than T. rex is anybody's guess. But there's no doubt it was an efficient killing machine.

The beast's 6-foot skull is shaped like a pair of scissors. It had a mouthful of narrow arrowhead-shaped serrated teeth, some 8 inches long, that eviscerated its victims with surgeon-like precision. Victims included 75-foot-long plant eaters, whose fossils were found near the giganotosaurus.

The T. rex used its brute strength, packing more power per bite with its thicker teeth.

"The giganotosaurus was bigger and lighter built," said Michael Brett-Surman, museum specialist for dinosaurs at the Smithsonian Institution. "T. rex is a statement of bulk and power."

The two beasts, which were not likely relatives, also displayed other differences, Coria said.

He said the giganotosaurus' eyes were "looking at you, like an eagle," while the eyes of T. rex were on the side. The gi-ga-no-to-sau-rus also had huge olfactory bones, indicating a keen sense of smell that it most likely relied on the greatest, he said.

While the giganotosaurus isn't likely to supplant T. rex as the next star of "Jurassic Park" sequels, Coria said its discovery has thrilled the most dinosaur-obsessed - children.

"They were all very happy to find a dinosaur bigger than T. rex," he said.