(ORDO NEWS) — Titanosaurus, whose skeleton was excavated for almost 70 years in the Southern Pyrenees, turned out to be a representative of a new species Abditosaurus kuehnei.
The dinosaur, weighing 14 tons and 17.5 meters long, lived at the end of the Cretaceous period and was very large for the island on which it lived.
A team of paleontologists from Spain and Portugal described a new species of titanosaur from the remains found at the Orcau-1 excavation site in the Midi-Pyrenees (Catalonia, Spain).
The dinosaur described in an article for the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution was named Abditosaurus kuehnei , and its 70.5 million-year-old skeleton was the most complete European titanosaur skeleton.
In addition, the Abdytosaurus turned out to be the largest titanosaur of the Ibero-Armorican island – the part of the land that later formed the Iberian Peninsula and southern France.
Excavations at Orcau-1 began as early as 1954, when the German paleontologist Walter Kuehne discovered the first dinosaur remains. After that, the place remained abandoned until 1986 – then scientists managed to extract a few more bones, but weather conditions prevented the continuation of the search.
The next time, field work was resumed by employees of the Catalan Paleontological Institute named after Miquel Cruzafont. The long history of excavation of the skeleton reflects the name Abditosaurus, which translates as “forgotten reptile”, and the specific epithet kuehnei refers to the name of the discoverer.
Over the entire period of work, paleontologists have discovered 53 skeletal elements, including teeth, vertebrae, ribs, limbs, shoulder blades, pelvic bones, and even a whole neck fragment of 12 connected vertebrae.
During life, the length of A. kuehnei was 17.5 meters, and its body weight reached 14 tons. This is a surprisingly large size for a titanosaur that lived in what is now Europe at the end of the Cretaceous.
Between 83 and 66 million years ago,Europe was an archipelago of a dozen islands, and the species that lived on its territory were usually smaller than relatives from the continents due to limited food resources.
A. kuehnei belongs to the vast subfamily of titanosaurs Saltasaurinae that lived in what is now South America and Africa. They differed from European relatives in smaller sizes.
During the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, the Ibero-Armorican island was located between Eurasia, Africa and North America, and A. kuehnei was probably placed on it as a result of the fall in sea level, which made migration possible.
The find is important for understanding the evolution of sauropods at the end of the Cretaceous, as it opens up a new look at their phylogenetic and paleobiogeographic history in the last 15 million years of existence. In addition, the relationship of A. kuehnei with the continental fauna gives an idea of the time at which parts of the land were isolated.
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