Europe’s largest dinosaur skeleton found in Portugal

(ORDO NEWS) — During excavations in the courtyard of a resident of the Portuguese city of Pombal, paleontologists discovered well-preserved fragments of a dinosaur skeleton. Probably, its owner was the largest sauropod in Europe and belonged to the family of brachiosaurids.

In 2017, during construction work, a property owner in the Portuguese city of Pombal discovered several fragments of fossilized dinosaur bones in his backyard and immediately contacted the research team, who conducted the first series of excavations that same year.

From August 1 to August 10, 2022, Portuguese and Spanish paleontologists continued to work. In the end, they came to the conclusion that their find is the skeleton of what is probably the largest dinosaur ever discovered in Europe.

The dinosaur belongs to the sauropods – an extensive group of four-legged herbivorous dinosaurs, whose feature was long necks and tails. The found dinosaur reached 12 meters in height and 25 meters in length.

Scientists attributed it to the family of brachiosaurids ( Brachiosauridae ), whose representatives lived at the end of the Jurassic – the beginning of the Cretaceous period, about 100-160 million years ago, and were distinguished by their developed forelimbs.

This family includes the well-known brachiosaurus ( Brachiosaurus altithorax ), which lived in the territory of modern North America, giraffatitan ( Giraffatitan brancai ), found in Tanzania, as well as another species found in Portugal – lusotitan Lusotitan atalaiensis .

Scientists have already found many important elements of the axial skeleton, including vertebrae and ribs. The surprise was that these parts of the skeleton are well preserved.

All ribs were in excellent condition; moreover, they retained their anatomical position. This is highly unusual in the dinosaurian record in general and the sauropod record of Portugal in particular.

The preservation of the fossils and their location indicate that other skeletal fragments may be nearby. Scientists plan to check this in the course of future excavations in this area, as well as to identify a new dinosaur to the species.

The Pombal area contains many unique Late Jurassic vertebrate fossils that have made a huge contribution to the study of the continental fauna that inhabited the Iberian Peninsula about 145 million years ago.

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