Drexel is a huge technology hub and has an ever-increasing role in the future development of Philadelphia, but we can’t forget about the work this institution puts into learning more about the past. On Sept. 4, a paleontology team led by Kenneth Lacovara from Drexel University announced the discovery of Dreadnoughtus, quite possibly the largest dinosaur to ever live. The event was covered by a number of news outlets, the New York Times included, as well as lighting up social media with Drexel pride — that’s right, Drexel pride.
The most incredible thing about the discovery of Dreadnoughtus was its sheer size — a massive, 85-foot long lizard that weighed approximately 130,000 pounds at the time of its death. To put things in perspective, a full-grown Brachiosaurus and Brontosaurus weighed on average 75,000 pounds and 68,000 pounds respectively. The Times also mentions that the African elephant is currently the largest land animal alive, weighing in at only 15,000 pounds; a significant drop from the behemoth that was unearthed in Argentina.
The skeleton thrust Drexel into the national limelight for a split second, and into the archaeological spotlight for the past few weeks. Needless to say, this was a huge finding and not just in terms of size. Lacovara and his team discovered a member of an entirely new species and its remains are the most complete of a broader category of dinosaurs known as titanosaurs. With this discovery, Lacovara has begun writing a more detailed description in a whole new chapter of our planet’s history.
As most of the University is focused on making scientific advancements for tomorrow, we can’t ignore the significance of discovering a colossal dinosaur that existed 77 million years ago, and what it means to the University. Drexel’s partnership with the Academy of Natural Sciences has proven invaluable time and time again, and even now so with their effort to work with Lacovara and his team. The partnership benefits the University in numerous ways, such as being able to offer special topic classes, collaborating on new discoveries, and allowing the Drexel community access to the museum. These are opportunities students should be taking advantage of, as it’s one of the many ways that Drexel is a unique university. There is more to science than circuit boards and wires.
This weekend some of us will be picking up the new iPhone 6 or struggling to download iOS 8, but this technology won’t be intact within a few decades, let alone millions of years from now. The Dreadnoughtus discovery reinforces how important it is to remember what came before human civilizations and not to lose touch with something as awe-inspiring, scientifically staggering, and generally cool as dinosaurs.