The remains of what could be the largest dinosaur discovered in Europe have been unearthed in a yard in Pombal, a town in the central region of Portugal. The remains, which could correspond to a sauropod dinosaur about 12 meters tall and 25 meters long, are now being studied by an international team of researchers.
It all started in 2017. While carrying out construction work, the owner of a property in Pombal noticed the presence of several fragments of fossilized bones in his yard and contacted the research team, which carried out the first excavation campaign in the same year.
More recently, between August 1 and 10, 2022, Portuguese and Spanish paleontologists working at the site unearthed what may be the remains of the largest sauropod dinosaur discovered in Europe.
Sauropods are herbivorous, quadrupedal dinosaurs with long necks and tails.
What size would the dinosaur have been?
“It is not usual to find all the ribs of such an animal, let alone in this position, preserving its original anatomical position. This mode of preservation is relatively unusual in the fossil record of dinosaurs, especially sauropods, from the Portuguese Upper Jurassic”, says Elisabete Malafaia, postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Sciences of University of LisbonPortugal.
To date, an important set of axial skeletal elements has been collected from the site, which includes vertebrae and ribs of a possible sauropod brachiosaurid dinosaur.
The group Brachiosauridae it consists of large species that lived from the Upper Jurassic to the Lower Cretaceous, about 160 to 100 million years ago, and is characterized by the presence of strongly developed forelimbs.
The region would hide a treasure trove of fossils
Some of the most iconic species of dinosaurs belong to this group of sauropods, such as Brachiosaurus altithorax and Giraffatitan brancaias well as the Late Jurassic Portuguese species, Lusotitan atalaiensisdiscovered in the western region of Portugal.
The preservation characteristics of the fossils and their arrangement indicate the possible presence of other parts of the skeleton of this individual, a hypothesis that will be tested in future excavation campaigns in the deposit.
“The research carried out in the paleontological locality of Monte Agudo confirms that the Pombal region has an important fossil register of late Jurassic vertebrates, which in recent decades has allowed the discovery of abundant material, significant for the knowledge of the continental fauna that populated the Iberian Peninsula approximately 145 million years”, adds Elisabete Malafaia, writes Phys.org.