The Dinosaur, the Mechanic and the Dam

Published on Monday, 20 November 2017

“A one-of-a-kind carnivorous dinosaur: 5 metres tall and 12.5 metres long from head to tail, for a total weight of 7 tonnes. It was immediately named the Carolini Gigantosaurus.”

T-Rex’s Big Brother

The discovery of the “Giant of the South”, as the dinosaur is known, changed Rubén Carolini’s life, as well as the life of the entire area around the dam and in the province of Neuquén.

As just an enthusiast, Carolini received the “promotion” to professional palaeontologist in the field, joining the team of specialists made up of Leonardo Salgado, Rodolfo Coria and Jorge Calvo.

“In 1995, the scientific magazine Nature officially granted the Carolini Gigantosaurus the title of largest carnivore ever found on Earth, which had previously belonged to the T-Rex.”

The municipalisation of the Ernesto Bachmann Palaeontology Museum in the small town of Villa El Chocón opened up a new era for the region and for Carolini, named first director of the institution. Today, you can still admire the Gigantosaurus and other fossil artefacts discovered later in the geological deposits of the Rio Limay, which feeds into the Exequiel Ramos Mexía lake.

Better than Jurassic Park

Now tourists, scholars and curious visitors push to this fascinating corner of Argentinian Patagonia to see the Giant of the South, a one-of-a-kind discovery not only for the size of the dinosaur, but also for how well the remains were preserved.

“80% of the Gigantosaurus’ bones were found, allowing for a faithful reconstruction of what would have been the original composition of its skeleton”

Almost 15 years after Rubén Carolini’s incredible “encounter”, the province of Neuquén has become an important hub for palaeontology worldwide, giving a strong impetus to scientific activity in this sector in Argentina.

The Gigantosaurus has become a member of the community in this small Argentinian town. If you take the Ruta Nacional 237, the closer you get to Villa El Chocón, the more you find two types of road signs: large signs that depict the dinosaur’s features and directions to the dam. Two simple indications that reveal how much the Gigantosaurus and the EGP dam are the foundation of the past, present and future story of the local community.