(ORDO NEWS) — In a backyard in Pombal, a city in Portugal’s central region, fossils of perhaps the largest dinosaur found in Europe have been discovered.
The remains, which may correspond to a sauropod dinosaur about 12 meters high and 25 meters long, are currently being studied by an international research team.
It all started in 2017. During construction work, the owner of the site in Pombal noticed several fragments of petrified bones in his yard and contacted the research team, which carried out the first excavation campaign that same year.
More recently, Portuguese and Spanish paleontologists working at the site discovered what may be the largest sauropod dinosaur found in Europe between August 1 and 10, 2022.
Sauropods are herbivorous four-legged dinosaurs with long necks and tails.
“It is unusual to find all the ribs of an animal in this form, and even more so in a position where their original anatomical position has been preserved.
This mode of preservation is relatively uncommon in the fossil record of dinosaurs, especially sauropods, from the Upper Jurassic of Portugal,” says Elisabeth Malafaia, PhD student in the Faculty of Science at the University of Lisbon (Ciências ULisboa), Portugal.
An important set of axial skeletal elements, including the vertebrae and ribs of a possible brachiosaurid sauropod dinosaur, has been collected from the site so far.
The brachiosaurid group consists of large species that lived from the Upper Jurassic to the Lower Cretaceous, approximately 160 to 100 million years ago, and are characterized by the presence of markedly developed forelimbs.
Some of the best known dinosaur species belong to this group of sauropods, such as Brachiosaurus altithorax and Giraffatitan brancai, as well as the Late Jurassic Portuguese species found in the western region of Portugal, Lusotitan atalaiensis.
The preservation characteristics of the fossils and their location indicate the possible presence of other parts of the skeleton of this animal, a hypothesis that will be tested in future excavations in the field.
“The study at the Monte Agudo paleontological site confirms that the Pombal region has an important fossil record of late Jurassic vertebrates, which in recent decades has made it possible to discover rich material that is very important for the knowledge of the continental fauna that inhabited the Iberian Peninsula about 145 million years ago,” notes Elisabeth Malafaia.
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