The remains of the largest dinosaur ever known in Europe are being unearthed in the backyard of a house in Portugal.
The remains, which could correspond to a sauropod dinosaur about 12 meters high and 25 meters long, are now being studied by an international team of researchers.
It all started in 2017. The owner of a property in Pombal noticed the presence of several fossilized bone fragments in his garden during construction work and contacted the authorities. The research team carried out the first excavations in the area that same year.
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Now, between August 1 and 10, 2022, paleontologists working in the area uncovered the remains of the largest sauropod dinosaur ever found in Europe. Sauropods were herbivorous, quadrupedal dinosaurs with long necks and tails.
Elisabete Malafaia, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Lisbon in Portugal, said: “In this position, it is unusual to find all the ribs of an animal in this way, preserving their original anatomical position. This form of preservation is relatively rare in the fossil record of dinosaurs from the Portuguese Upper Jurassic, especially sauropods.”
So far, a substantial set of skeletons has been collected from the site, including the vertebrae and ribs of a possible brachiosaurid sauropod dinosaur. The Brachiosauridae group consists of large species that lived from about 160 to 100 million years ago, from the Upper Jurassic to the Lower Cretaceous, and is characterized by the presence of distinctly developed forelimbs.
Some of the most emblematic dinosaur species belong to this group of sauropods, such as Brachiosaurus altithorax and Giraffatitan brancai, as well as Portuguese Late Jurassic species found in the western Portuguese region of Lusotitan atalaiensis.
The state of preservation and position of these fossils in the backyard of a private property suggests that other parts of this dinosaur’s skeleton may be present. This is a hypothesis that will be tested in future excavations in the sediment.
“The research at the Monte Agudo paleontological site confirms that the Pombal region has an important fossil record of Late Jurassic vertebrates. In recent years, abundant material has been discovered that is very important for knowledge about the continental fauna that inhabited the Iberian Peninsula around 145 million years ago.”
University of Lisbon. August 24, 2022.