Scientists in Argentina say they discovered a fossil linked to what they believe is the world's first giant dinosaur.

The new dinosaur species, dubbed Ingentia prima, is believed to have appeared on Earth 30 million years earlier than the first giant dinosaurs called sauropods, according to researchers at Argentina's Universidad Nacional de San Juan.

The late Triassic period roughly 210 million years ago was a critical time for the evolution of dinosaurs, researchers said. Sauropods, which include dinosaurs like the brachiosaurus, underwent several significant changes in their anatomy, gaining longer necks, four thick legs and smaller heads, with some weighing as much as 70 tons.

"Before this discovery, gigantism was considered to have started during the Jurassic period, about 180 million years ago approximately," said researcher Dr. Cecilia Apaldetti of Universidad Nacional de San Juan in a statement. "But Ingentia prima lived during the last part of the Triassic period, between 210 and 205 million years ago."

Scientists believe the Ingentia prima was an herbivore weighing about 10 tons, which is equivalent to 2 to 3 elephants. The term Ingentia is Latin for "huge," and prima is "first."

Although Ingentia prima was smaller and included features such as a shorter neck, it shared with sauropods a type of respiratory system common in birds.

Their findings were published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

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