Awesomesaurus is a genus of gigantopod dinosaur believed to have appeared briefly in the late Cretaceous Period. Originally proposed by archaeologist Mary Anning in 1956, Awesomesaurus would be the largest of the entire taxon, although its supporting fossil record is generally considered inconclusive and has met with considerable challenge ever since its controversial proposal.
Discovery, physiology, and diet
Awesomesaurus is believed to have stood approximately 675–700 feet tall—at least twelve times the average height of Tyrannosaurus Rex. Anning's calculations are based mostly upon analysis of Awesomesaurus ' most prominent piece of fossil evidence, the Anning Tooth, a ten-foot tall fossil that critics consider to be merely a slab of igneous rock. Based on the shape of the tooth, which Anning claims is "able to cut a T. rex the hell in half," Awesomesaurus ' diet is believed to have consisted mostly of lesser carnivores such as T. rex, Archaeopteris Ursis, and Diplodicus Canis, and smaller Awesomesaurus.
Awesomesaurus was highly cannibalistic. It would commonly kill and eat smaller members of its species. In fact, it frequently did so, for they were full of nutrients. After laying their eggs, parents would guard them from other hungry Awesomesaurus. When the eggs hatched, the one-foot tall chicks would flee to the protection of their parents, however, their 700-foot tall parents rarely noticed which resulted in the babies very often being stepped upon when running around the parent's legs. In fact, it is hypothesized that five out of every six babies born were stepped on and smashed. The other threat was cannibalism. Though at only foot tall, they were really to small to be seen, and as they grew, their parents would start to kill and eat them. It is believed that an Awesomesaurus would give lay inexcess of 200 eggs so that they could eat some of the hatchlings. The babies would eat each other and only each other until they escaped their parents. Of the 200 eggs, usually only 1 to 2 hatchlings survived to adulthood.
Mary Anning's discovery of Awesomesaurus is often cited as the beginning of the end of her career. Edward Drinker Cope's August 1959 editorial in the journal Nature brought the controversy into the open when he issued a famous challenge to paleontologists to discredit Anning's work. The death-knell for Anning's career is widely considered to be her appearance on a panel at the annual conference of the International Paleontomological Society the following October in which Cope took the floor and declared "This is madness!" to which Anning exclaimed, "This is paleontology!", knocking Cope from the stage with a chest-kick.
References in popular culture
Given the controversial nature of Awesomesaurus, the genus has often been overlooked in the mainstream. Many Anning followers felt vindicated, however, when Michael Crichton included a pointed reference to Awesomesaurus in Jurassic Park.
“If we hatch an Awesomesaurus, how the hell will we feed it? Impossible. We'd need the whole rest of the island, every day of the week.”
~ Dr. Ian Malcolm (character from Jurrasic Park) on Awesomesaurus