Despite its size, the Ingentia prima paled in comparison to the 64-tonne giants of the Cretaceous period, when giant dinosaurs ruled the Earth 65 million years ago.
Early Triassic sauropodomorphs were small and ran on two legs.
What is unexpected is Ingentia prima dates back to Triassic, 30 million years before the well-known big Diplodocus and Brachiosaurus, which are thought to be the earliest giant dinosaurs, said Dr. Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh.
For the new study, lead scientist Cecilia Apaldetti and her team from the National University of San Juan analysed the fossil, along with three new specimens of a closely-related and previously documented dinosaur known as Lessemsaurus sauropoides (which was done for comparison).
Analysis showed that I. prima weighed between seven and 10 tonnes (the largest African elephants weight between six and seven tonnes), and it already exhibited an elongated neck and long tail, though not almost as pronounced as those seen later.
Until now, it was thought that giant body sizes in dinosaurs-anything over 10 tons-first appeared around 180 million years ago during the Jurassic period.
They all belonged to a family of dinosaurs called "lessemsaurids" and lived in what is now Argentina, but was then the southeast corner of the supercontinent Pangaea.
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For dinosaurs, "gigantism" was a survival tool, with herbivores using their huge size to defend against predators.
They were discovered in a dinosaur "nest" unearthed at a World Heritage site known for its fossils in Argentina's north western San Juan province.
The remains included shoulder blades, cervical vertebrae and bones from the forelimbs, feet and skull of the four dinosaurs.
"These pneumatic cavities indicate that this new species had highly developed air sacs and a very efficient breathing system, similar to what happens in modern birds, which also helped it to keep its body cool despite its large size", said Apaldetti.
But unlike their more recent counterparts they stood on bent legs and had bones that grew thick through accelerated bursts.
The last, iconic sauropods had the benefit of a long history of evolutionary innovation in this regard, said Dr Apaldetti.