First shown: BBC Two 9.00pm Thursday 23rd November 2000
NARRATOR (PAUL BRIGHTWELL): Patagonia,
Argentina. This is dinosaur country, a land where the rocks are
rich with fossils. For millions of years this peaceful land has
kept a terrible secret and only now are palaeontologists uncovering
the truth. New finds here in South America are revolutionising our
picture of the prehistoric world. It now seems that in the time
of the dinosaurs Patagonia may have been the scene of the bloodiest
battle in the history of life, one that matched the biggest animal
ever to have walked the Earth against a new dinosaur, the most fearsome
killer that ever evolved. A huge plant-eating dinosaur takes on
a massive carnivore in an ugly pitched battle for survival.
This idea of the two biggest creatures on the planet locked in mortal
combat has proved irresistible for science-fiction writers and movie
makers, but for the scientists who study dinosaurs this was pure
fantasy. They knew that this clash of Titans could never have happened
in real life. That's because in real life the giant, long-necked
herbivores never lived alongside the mega-carnivores, huge dinosaurs
like Tyrannosaurus rex, the king of the meat-eaters. The two giants
of their kind never walked the Earth at the same time in the same
place. Creatures like these could never have met - or so the scientists
Plaza Huincul, a small Argentinean town in rural Patagonia, is famous
for two things: oil and dinosaurs. Palaeontologists come to the
plains surrounding Plaza Huincul searching for clues to the prehistoric
world. This place was one home to the most extreme dinosaurs the
world has ever seen. Dinosaur hunter, Rodolfo Coria knows he's a
lucky man. He's chief palaeontologist here and many of the most
extraordinary finds have been his.
DR RODOLFO CORIA (Plaza Huincul Museum): Argentina is a good place
for finding fossils, specially because of Patagonia. Patagonia is
almost 50% of the Argentina surface and the rocks, they are very
well exposed, so it's very easy to find fossil evidence on it. If
you're looking for dinosaurs Patagonia is the place.
NARRATOR: But even Rodolfo was unprepared for the series of record-breaking
monsters he was to unearth in these rocks, dinosaurs which would
change our picture of the prehistoric world. It all began nine years
ago when he and his team began excavating the bones of what was
obviously a very large dinosaur. After many days of back-breaking
digging they had revealed just part of an enormous skeleton. They
then hauled whole chunks of rock back to the workshop to free the
bones inside, but the amazing thing was when they chipped away at
this massive hunk they found only one bone inside and when they
calculated the size of the creature from the bones they realised
they had found the biggest dinosaur that ever lived, a completely
new species, a giant plant-eater. They named this new creature Argentinasaurus.
RODOLFO CORIA: This is a human backbone, this is a backbone of a
whale and this is an Argentinasaurus backbone. You can see just
on its size that Argentinasaurus was a very big animal.
NARRATOR: The other bones were just as massive. With thighs the
size of a car, Argentinasaurus was far and away the heaviest dinosaur
ever found. When this animal walked the earth trembled. The world
of palaeontology was thrilled.
DR THOMAS HOLTZ (University of Maryland): It's an immense plant-eater,
it's perhaps 80-100 metric tonnes, or to think of it another way,
it's the size of a herd of elephants. it may be that there are dinosaurs
even bigger than Argentinasaurus out there yet to be found, but
at present that's as big as we know any land-living creature has
ever been in the history of life.
NARRATOR: This life-sized replica of Argentinasaurus is being built
for the town square in Plaza Huincul. When it's finished it will
stand as tall as a 5-storey building. But it wasn't just this dinosaur's
size that was out of the ordinary. When scientists analysed the
layers of rock in which the skeleton was found they discovered something.
Argentinasaurus, along with many smaller South American long-necks,
had been living at the wrong time. This fact was to prove crucial.
Layers of fossil-bearing rock have shown that dinosaurs roamed the
planet for 180 million years. Over the course of this time hundreds
of different species of dinosaur evolved and died out. By the middle
of their time on Earth, the famous Jurassic period, the land was
dominated by massive plant-eating dinosaurs, the long-necks. These
giant animals lumbered slowly across the landscape in large herds.
With tiny brains, the size of a golf ball, they were neither quick-witted
nor fleet-footed, but they didn't need to be. Sheer size was their
defence. Only the youngest or the sickest were at risk from smaller
predators. The reign of the long-necks lasted for 60 million years
and then they died out - no one knows why. By the end of the final
age of dinosaurs, the Cretaceous period, things were very different.
A new and more vicious species of dinosaur arrived on the scene
- the massive, carnivorous Tyrannosaurus. They were enormous creatures.
Indeed they were the biggest carnivores known and for the next 25
million years these huge meat-eaters preyed upon everything around
them. These giant predators never met the long-necked herbivores.
But there was a part of the world where the story of evolution took
a different path - South America. Millions of years ago when dinosaurs
first appeared, all the land was connected in one huge super-continent
known as Pangaea, but over the ages Pangaea broke up into two giant
land masses, one in the north and one in the south.
DR FERNANDO NOVAS (Argentina Museum of Natural Sciences): Probably
around 100 million years ago South America became separated and
then the fauna - the dinosaurs, the mammals, the rest of the fauna
and flora start to evolve in the separate way, in different ways,
NARRATOR: After the continent split different dinosaurs evolved
on each continent. While throughout the northern continents the
giant long-necks died out, down south something extraordinary was
happening. Here the huge long-necks not only survived, they just
kept growing bigger and bigger.
RODOLFO CORIA: About 90 million years ago there was no such animal
this big in other, in any other part of the world but in South America,
these four-legged plant-eaters like Argentinasaurus, a typical South
American kind of dinosaur. In this Cretaceous period they were highly
successful in the southern hemisphere.
NARRATOR: But it wasn't just the long-necked plant-eaters that were
different on the isolated continent of South America. Sealed off
from the rest of the world, the vicious tyrannosaurs never reached
here. In fact, in the time of the long-neck Argentinasaurus scientists
could find no trace of any large meat-eaters stalking the continent,
but all that was about to change. A few years after the discovery
of Argentinasaurus Rodolfo and his team started exploring a new
fossil location near Plaza Huincul. Little did they realise what
a fiercesome creature they would uncover. Buried for 95 million
years a new monster began to emerge from its rocky grave. When they
put the bones together they found they had uncovered their second
record-breaking dinosaur. This was a truly astonishing find. They'd
found another giant, but this wasn't a long-necked plant-eater,
it was the skeleton of the biggest meat-eating dinosaur that ever
lived. It was a completely new species of animal, unrelated to the
tyrannosaurs and it was huge, the first giant carnivore ever discovered
in South America. They called it Giganotosaurus.
THOMAS HOLTZ: Giganotosaurus is perhaps 10-15% more massive and
longer than Tyrannosaurus rex which for a long time was the record
FERNANDO NOVAS: Giganotosaurus was an incredible animal, around
13 metres in length. The head was huge, around one metres and 80
NARRATOR: Giganotosaurus had a skull the length of a man, but this
giant predator had one more thing to reveal. When the team dated
the bones they found that Giganotosaurus lived in the Cretaceous,
the time of the giant long-neck, Argentinasaurus, and the two dinosaurs
were found only 80 kilometres apart. For the first time anywhere
in the world scientists had discovered mega-carnivores and huge
plant-eaters living during the same time period and in the same
RODOLFO CORIA: This is a peculiar ecological relationship that we,
that we found in, in Patagonia. Big preys and big predators.
THOMAS HOLTZ: If we look at South America in the age of Giganotosaurus
the main potential prey for this immense meat-eater is an even more
immense plant-eater, the giant Argentinasaurus.
NARRATOR: Could it be true that in Patagonia something unique happened?
That the largest plant-eater ever to walk the Earth came face to
face with the largest known meat-eater in an extraordinary clash
of the Titans? Could this really ever have happened? As palaeontologists
considered the idea of such an epic battle, they immediately saw
a problem. The giant meat-eater, Giganotosaurus, may have been large,
but he was still no match for Argentinasaurus. There was no way
even this big meat-eater would have been able to kill such a huge
animal. No way that is unless Giganotosaurus did what many others
predators do when faced with a much bigger prey. For these hyenas
hunting together is the only way they can bring down this wildebeest.
Could this have been what the clash of Titans was really like, not
with two solitary dinosaurs battling it out by themselves, but with
a pack of marauding Giganotosaurus hunting one enormous Argentinasaurus?
Unfortunately there was a fundamental problem with this idea. Palaeontologists
have traditionally believed that large carnivorous dinosaurs lived
and hunted alone. There was no evidence to support the idea of them
as pack hunters and if they weren't pack hunters, they could never
have attacked the massive long-neck Argentinasaurus. Angela Milner,
like many palaeontologists, believes the mega-carnivores were solitary
DR ANGELA MILNER (The Natural History Museum): Traditional view
of large meat-eating dinosaurs behaviour was that they were obviously
large, perhaps very ferocious animals, perhaps rabid predators,
but probably living singly. Large meat-eating dinosaurs, there's
no real evidence at all that they worked together in big groups.
DR MATTHEW CARRANO (State University of New York): Pack hunting
to me is something that's really hard to evolve and so unless there's
a really good reason for it to be there I would, my default would
be to say it's not there.
NARRATOR: For these sceptics there is some convincing evidence to
support their view of solitary predators. These are footprints made
by dinosaurs. They've been preserved in rock for over 150 million
years. Mark Norell believes it's footprints like these that show
which kinds of dinosaurs lived in groups.
DR MARK NORELL (American Museum of Natural History): The biggest
of all dinosaurs, the giant plant-eating dinosaurs, have left trackways,
fossilised footprints, which really, really show I think that they
lived in groups or herds, or whatever you want to call them and
these footprints are not arranged just randomly, they're arranged
in groups which really show that large ones walked out in front
of the pack, smaller ones in the middle of the pack and that these
groups had a structure and that they're all going in the same direction.
MATTHEW CARRANO: And in some places you can follow them for long
stretches, long distances, hundreds and thousands of metres and
you can see that they all move, sometimes they all turn and it really
seems to suggest that they're all moving together. It's not just
a coincidence that they're all in the same direction.
MARK NORELL: So I think that this is really, really powerful evidence
that's suggestive of this sort of behaviour in these animals. The
evidence for giant carnivorous dinosaurs isn't as good.
MATTHEW CARRANO: We have meat-eating dinosaur footprints, but all
of them seem to be solitary. Even when we have a trackway of several
footprints in a row we never seem to have any trackways with it
that show a group of animals moving together so whereas that is
actually rather common for the plant-eating dinosaur footprints,
it's essentially absent for the meat-eating dinosaur footprints.
NARRATOR: There's another key piece of evidence which supports the
view that the plant-eating dinosaurs were group animals.
WALKIE-TALKIE VOICE: 242, this is 42. CO242 is entering the Natural
NARRATOR: This desolate landscape contains a bone bed, a collection
of dinosaur bones buried together. The fossilised remains of hundreds
of plant-eating dinosaurs all of the same species who died together
cover an area the size of a football pitch.
ANGELA MILNER: This bone bed was full of horned dinosaurs of different
ages, little babies, large, full-grown ones and it's clear that
they were probably crossing a swollen river and got drowned trying
NARRATOR: Sites like this where many plant-eating dinosaurs have
been killed in an accident, lead palaeontologists to believe that
these herbivores were living together in herds when they died together.
ANGELA MILNER: With plant-eating dinosaurs it's very frequent to
find groups of animals preserved together in the rocks and because
they're all associated together closely and there are mixed ages
together, that's, that's good evidence they were living together
as a herd.
NARRATOR: Bone beds containing herds of plant-eating dinosaurs are
common, but there was no such convincing evidence that large meat-eating
dinosaurs lived and died in groups.
THOMAS HOLTZ: In the case of the early fossil finds of meat-eating
dinosaurs they sort of reinforce this idea of meat-eaters as solitary
hunters. People had only found individual specimens of each of the
species. They never found group assemblages, they never found a
bunch of individuals together.
NARRATOR: All the evidence indicated that these vicious predators
lived and died as solitary hunters and if they were solitary hunters,
no single carnivore, however big, would have gone for a prey as
huge as the giant herbivore, Argentinasaurus. It looked like the
tantalising idea of a clash of the Titans down in Patagonia was
doomed - or so most palaeontologists thought. But one man was going
to change all that. Phil Currie is one of the world's most accomplished
palaeontologists. He is one of the few scientists in the world who
can identify any meat-eating dinosaur from a single tooth. It was
Currie's passion for predatory dinosaurs that led him down south
to work with Rodolfo Coria on the plains of Patagonia.
DR PHILIP CURRIE (Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology): When an
opportunity came up in 1995 to go down to Argentina and see Rodolfo
and all the fantastic fossil finds he'd made up to that point in
time of course I jumped on it.
NARRATOR: Like his colleagues, Currie had always believed the mega-carnivores
were solitary creatures and didn't hunt in packs, but over time
as he began to think things through he made a connection.
PHILIP CURRIE: From looking at modern animals it became very clear
that maybe it wasn't such an unusual thing that big, meat-eating
dinosaurs were in fact packing animals. We'd already had good indications
that the plant-eaters were herding animals and it'll only make sense
that if the carnivores wanted to break the defences of a plant-eater's
herd the only way they could do that is by having the strength of
numbers and one of the responses that happens in a wide range of
animals is that the meat-eaters become pack hunters.
NARRATOR: Currie now began to think the idea of large, meat-eating
dinosaurs as pack hunters was a serious possibility, but to prove
his hunch he needed hard evidence like that which had been found
for the plant-eating dinosaurs. What he needed was to find a bone
bed where a group of mega-carnivores, any meat-eating giants, no
matter what species, lay buried together.
PHILIP CURRIE: If we can find a bone bed with a lot of carnivores
in one place then we have an indication that those animals died
together. If they died together it's a, it's a very high probability
that they may have been living together.
THOMAS HOLTZ: The only way we can actually demonstrate if an animal's
a group hunter or even come close to thinking about that, is by
finding an assemblage where there are multiple individuals of different
age sizes from small individuals all up the way through big adults
buried together at the same time.
NARRATOR: So for Currie the search was on around the world for just
such a site. And then he remembered something. Several years earlier
he had read a very old magazine article by one of the most famous
early dinosaur hunters.
PHILIP CURRIE: I'd read an article by Barnum Brown and the article
was basically about his experiences in southern Alberta and in that
article is basically a one-liner which suggests that he found somewhere
where there was a lot of tyrannosaurs' remains in one single bone
NARRATOR: Currie realised this long forgotten site might be the
multiple carnivore bone bed he had been looking for, a place which
showed that several tyrannosaurs had lived and died together, but
buried in the pages of National Geographic for over 80 years the
reference to the bone bed site had long been forgotten.
PHILIP CURRIE: I got really excited. I knew that this was a really
special site and I felt that we had to re-find the site. It wasn't
a matter any more that somewhere out there was a bone bed that we
might be able to find, I had to find that site.
NARRATOR: Although finding this unique site had become crucial to
Currie, there was a big problem. Barnum Brown had never written
down where the site was. He died taking the secret of its location
to the grave.
MARK NORELL: This is one of Barnum Brown's field books. There aren't
too many of these which really exist, not because they've been lost,
but just because Barnum Brown didn't take any notes and if you look
at it really all it is, is just a list of specimens and field numbers.
There's not much in here about his day-to-day activities, there's
not anything about describing the geology of particular localities,
except that the rocks were grey or something like that, or it took
him three days to get a specimen out, so unlike a lot of palaeontologists
of his time or even today he wasn't much of a note taker.
NARRATOR: But Currie really needed to find the site, so he scored
Brown's archive looking for clues.
PHILIP CURRIE: We went and looked at everything in the archives
we could get our hands on and we were lucky that amongst all that
material were four photographs which were pretty good.
NARRATOR: The photographs had been taken by Brown around the dig
site in 1910. Currie hoped that he could use the photos to pinpoint
Brown's excavation, but all that was known was that the dig site
lay somewhere in the badlands near the Red Deer River in western
Canada. So in 1997 Currie and a team of palaeontologists set off
by boat on an expedition down a 100 mile stretch of the Red Deer
River following in the paddle strokes of Barnum Brown looking for
the site, but the badlands of Canada stretch over hundreds of square
miles with endless crags, hills and gullies that all look exactly
the same. In all this vast land no one knew where this potential
goldmine of fossils was located.
PHILIP CURRIE: The badlands are very, very complex. Unless you happen
to have exactly the right angle and be there at exactly the same
time of day as he took the photograph, chances are pretty good you
can't relocate sites by using photographs.
NARRATOR: But as he studied the photographs more closely, Currie
noticed something. In one of them Brown's assistant was working
at the elusive site. Behind him was a distinctive ridge of hills.
If Currie could find that ridge he could find the site.
PHILIP CURRIE: If you look at this particular photograph you can
see a series of ridges with trees behind them and there's not that
many places around here where you're going to get exactly that combination
of ridges and trees, so if you can line yourself up properly with
those ridges and trees then you know you're in the right area and
then you have a very good chance of finding the quarry itself. Even
so it was still like looking for a needle in a haystack. We spent
a couple of days basically scouring the area looking for just the
right combination of badlands as revealed in the photographs. Well
the first day went by and we had no luck, but the next day it turned
out to be the hottest day of the year and the expedition, which
numbered about 16 people, basically ran out of water. By lunchtime
everybody had gone back to camp except for me and I'm crazy enough
I guess that I kept at it. I went through all the badlands here
and as you can see these canyons are quite deep so going up and
down them on the hottest day of the year is, is, is quite an effort.
I was at a point over there and I suddenly realised that a ridge
in this region looked like it might just have the right kind of
viewpoint. Got to the top and as I mounted this ridge over here
I could see that the trees and the ridge lined up exactly perfectly
and I knew I had the site.
NARRATOR: Currie and his team pounced on this unique site and started
digging and it was worth it. What they found were the remains of
several giant tyrannosaurs all together in one place. One after
another they kept unearthing the bones of these huge, carnivorous
PHILIP CURRIE: I don't know if Brown actually ever did a head count
but the, the minimum number of animals in this quarry is definitely
NARRATOR: Twelve large meat-eating dinosaurs buried in the same
place. It was an unprecedented find. Phil Currie had found the site
that he had dreamt of, but there was more. As they examined the
bones they had collected, it was clear that the dinosaurs they had
excavated were of every age, from babies up to fully mature adults.
It looked like a pack.
PHILIP CURRIE: The range of material is such that we can see that
the smallest individual found in the bone bed was about four metres
long and the largest individual found in the bone bed is about eleven
metres long, so it's a pretty big range in size for this animal.
NARRATOR: They had found a whole pack of tyrannosaurs. Here at last
was proof to Currie that the giant meat-eaters were not solitary
creatures, that their traditional image was wrong. Instead the mega-carnivores
may really have lived and hunted in groups. If that was true, then
down in South America packs of Giganotosaurus might indeed have
attacked prey as enormous as the immense long-neck Argentinasaurus.
Currie's site seemed to prove it all, but other palaeontologists
were not yet convinced.
MATTHEW CARRANO: Bone beds are very tantalising forms of information
because you have a tremendous number of bones in one single layer
and it's very tempting to look at that as evidence for a whole herd
of these animals living in one place at one time. There are times
when the bone bed information I think supports that interpretation,
but there are times when it does not.
NARRATOR: Before anyone would accept Currie's evidence he would
have to verify some key details about the dig site.
ANGELA MILNER: A collection of bones in a bone bed doesn't automatically
mean we're looking at a collection of animals that lived together.
Sometimes bone beds accumulate from large areas of the land where
floods have brought all kinds of animal remains together and mixed
them up, so you might be looking at an accumulation from, of many
different animals from miles and miles away.
NARRATOR: This was the first problem. Flood waters spreading across
the plains could have washed together the remains of several unrelated
tyrannosaurs. Buried in the same place millions of years ago today
they might look like a pack, but Currie felt he had an answer to
this. These tyrannosaurs were rare dinosaurs. They would have made
up only about 5% of the animal life in this area. The chances that
twelve unrelated tyrannosaurs died separately and were washed together
to this spot were minute.
PHILIP CURRIE: To find twelve Tyrannosaurus by chance at this level
in this bone bed, the chances of that happening are about 1 in 64
million. It really isn't very likely that it's going to happen by
NARRATOR: But there could be an even more dramatic reason why the
bones of Currie's tyrannosaurs were all in one place. They could
all have been caught in a predator trap. This is a predator trap.
In this strange, swamp-like place molten tar has bubbled up from
deep within the earth for tens of thousands of years. The sticky
tar is lethal to any animal that wanders into it. Within seconds
the creature will become stuck and then its fate is sealed. Predator
traps have been found all around the world. This one is in downtown
Los Angeles. John Harris has been investigating these tar pits for
the past 20 years.
DR JOHN HARRIS (Page Museum, Los Angeles): What would happen would
be a horse or a ground sloth or a camel would wander along and get
stuck and just demonstrating here once it's in it takes a great
deal of strength to pull it out and of course if an animal gets
stuck on the surface like this when it's trying to pull out one
leg it's push, pushing in three others and so very soon it will
get totally immobilised.
NARRATOR: The trapped animal would lure predators to the swamp who
would in turn become stuck.
JOHN HARRIS: There will be sort of meat on the hook waiting for
the sabre-tooth and the, the, the dire wolf to come in and feed
from it and they would come in and they in turn would get stuck
and down would come the vultures to feed on them and they would
get stuck and in would come the flies to feed off the carcasses
and they'd get stuck so in pretty short order you'd build up an
example of the whole food chain.
NARRATOR: Over time hundreds of dinosaur carcasses would have sunk
into these traps. Millions of years later the tar and mud has turned
to rock, the bones fossilised and the site would look like any normal
rocky bone bed. If Currie's dig site was actually a prehistoric
predator trap it would destroy his theory that the tyrannosaurs
lived and hunted in packs, but how could the palaeontologists tell?
There is always one tell-tale feature of all predator traps: they
trap and kill every animal that is unlucky enough to cross their
path. They contain the bones of many different species of animal
that lived for miles around them.
JOHN HARRIS: Over the course of the last century we've recovered
more than 3½ million fossils representing more than 650 species
of animals and plants and they include a great diversity of animals,
particularly large ones - mammoths, mastodons, sabre-tooth cats,
lions, dire wolves and so on.
NARRATOR: If Currie's team discovered many different species of
animal at their site they would have to consider whether they were
simply the leftovers of a deadly predator trap, but after three
years of painstaking digging there's been one extraordinary finding
about this site.
PHILIP CURRIE: So far all of the animals that are found in here
as parts of skeletons are one species and that's this big meat-eater,
a tyrannosaur known as Albertasaurus. There are no other carnivorous
dinosaurs in this bone bed and given that, we're dealing with only
one type of carnivore. We can rule out things like predator traps.
It's almost certain that these dinosaurs died here together because
they were living together.
NARRATOR: Phil Currie seemed to have proved his case - but he hadn't.
Although he was convinced, his fellow palaeontologists still weren't
THOMAS HOLTZ: If we rely just on one site with large predatory dinosaurs
found as a group with multiple individuals of different ages size
buried together that could be a fluke, could be a chance.
MATTHEW CARRANO: The evidence right now is a little bit equivocal.
It's not a definite set of evidence, it's a little circumstantial.
NARRATOR: Despite all his efforts, Currie's case was not yet proven.
He now needed a second site if he was to convince his colleagues
that the first dig wasn't a fluke, that large meat-eating dinosaurs
really were pack hunters. And then he got some unexpected news.
Patagonia, the land which had harboured the bones of Argentinasaurus
and Giganotosaurus had yielded one further treasure. Phil Currie's
colleague, Rodolfo Coria, had made a new discovery.
RODOLFO CORIA: We came here by chance first time because a local
farmer called us because of some fossils that he had found and we
were very lucky because looking in the slope of this hill we found
NARRATOR: This is one of the toe bones of what was to prove to be
an enormous dinosaur. Rodolfo has recognised that the bone was from
a meat-eater and the following year he had persuaded Phil Currie
to join him down in Patagonia to try and find the rest of the skeleton.
PHILIP CURRIE: When we got there we actually found the level where
the bones were coming from. As we dug into that level we realised
there was a good part of a skeleton there. It far surpassed our
NARRATOR: Phil and Rodolfo thought the bones belonged to the giant
carnivore, Giganotosaurus, but as they examined their new discoveries
they noticed that the bones had different shapes from those of Giganotosaurus.
RODOLFO CORIA: This differences in the shape of the bones are a
clue for palaeontologists to identify a new species and the shape
is telling us that we are dealing with a new species of meat-eater.
NARRATOR: And then they began to measure the bones of their new
beast. They were bigger than any meat-eater bones ever found anywhere
in the world, bigger than T. rex, bigger even than Giganotosaurus.
PHILIP CURRIE: Our estimates show that a full size Tyrannosaurus
rex was somewhere between 12 and 13 metres in total length and that
means that the new one was somewhere between 14 and 15 metres in
total length. It looks like we've probably got the biggest meat-eater
in the world.
NARRATOR: But there was more. When Rodolfo and his team began to
study the bone specimens in detail they noticed something strange.
As they analysed the bones Rodolfo realised that they had found
four leg bones for a two-legged creature. There was more than one
carnivore in this dinosaur graveyard.
RODOLFO CORIA: So far our record is indicating that at least six
individuals have been preserved.
NARRATOR: And what's more, they were all different ages. With six
specimens of the new meat-eating dinosaur found at the Argentinean
site, Phil Currie had what he needed: the second pack of mega-carnivores.
PHILIP CURRIE: I just couldn't believe it because suddenly here
we were in a situation where we had two large meat-eating dinosaurs
in two parts of the world which were showing packing behaviour.
It seems to me that we have very convincing evidence that large
meat-eating dinosaurs formed these social groups where the young
and the old worked together, hunted together and lived together.
NARRATOR: Finally Currie's discoveries are beginning to convince
THOMAS HOLTZ: On the basis of these new discoveries we're beginning
to have to shape and change our ideas on how large predators behaved.
If they're operating as a group, if they're operating as a pack,
a group of Giganotosaurus, for example, may have been able to mob
even a big specimen of Argentinasaurus, something no one suspected
NARRATOR: But for Phil Currie this idea was more than a suspicion.
It made perfect sense to him that the giant South American meat-eaters
preyed upon the huge long-necks. He was convinced by their teeth.
PHILIP CURRIE: The teeth of the new animal are better adapted for
going after really big dinosaurs, like the long-necked plant-eaters
that lived in that region, because if you look at the teeth the
teeth are very blade-like, they have serrations running down the
front and the back and the teeth themselves are very narrow and
THOMAS HOLTZ: This is a slicing tooth, this is a tooth designed
to cut through meat so this new form could bite and slice up big
chunks of flesh.
NARRATOR: Long-necks like Argentinasaurus had massive bones, impossible
to crunch through, so the giant South American carnivores didn't
even try. Instead Currie believes they used their thin, steak knife
teeth to strip flesh from around the enormous bones.
PHILIP CURRIE: They were probably moving in to take quick bites
slicing off only the flesh and not biting very deep at all and then
when they had an opportunity they'd come in again and take another
bite until the prey was weak enough that they could kill it.
NARRATOR: So when a group of these predators attacked together in
a pack even a huge Argentinasaurus was doomed. It looks like the
clash of Titans could really have happened after all.
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