Megadinosaur fossil found in backyard in Portugal

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Megadinosaur fossil found in backyard in Portugal

Excavations carried out in the backyard of a house in the quiet town of Pombal, in central Portugal, may have revealed one of the largest dinosaur fossils ever found in Europe.

A team of Portuguese and Spanish paleontologists has recovered part of an exceptionally large skeleton of a sauropod: a giant herbivore known for having a very long neck and tail.

“The entire rib was very massive. We started to excavate and the rib continued and continued, the length really did not stop increasing”, explains paleontologist Elisabete Malafaia, a researcher at the Dom Luís Institute, at the University of Lisbon.

“At one point, we knew that the longest dorsal rib known so far was around 2.70 meters, and we were already past that. We kept digging and the biggest we found is about three meters long.” , complete.

According to the researchers involved with the work, the fossil was located in good conditions of preservation, still maintaining the original anatomical position that it would have had in the animal in life.

“This mode of preservation is relatively uncommon in the fossil record of dinosaurs (in particular sauropods) from the Portuguese Upper Jurassic,” the University of Lisbon announced in a statement.

The material is now being prepared for analysis by scientists. From there, it will be possible to know if the dinosaur is already known or if it belongs to a new species.

The process of discovering the animal started practically by chance, when a resident found the traces of the first fossilized bones while building on his land. The owner then contacted the university, which was already carrying out work in the region.

Excavations have been carried out gradually since 2017. The most recent stage, which identified the huge ribs, took place in early August.

Due to the material’s disposition and its preservation, the scientists believe that there are still other parts of the skeleton to be recovered. Therefore, further exploration campaigns on the ground will be carried out. The next one is planned for the spring or summer of 2023.

Scientists have already identified that the fossil of this prehistoric Portuguese – who inhabited the region about 150 million years ago – is part of the brachiosaurids group, which includes species such as the Lusotitan atalaiensiswho also lived in Portugal.

About 12 meters high, possibly reaching more than 20 meters in length, this Lusitanian titan lived in Lourinhã, one of the most famous paleontological exploration areas in the country. The region is now home to a large theme park entirely dedicated to dinosaurs.

“Portugal is known for its abundant fossil record of dinosaurs from the Upper Jurassic, especially on the coast, such as in Lourinhã, Torres Vedras and Caldas da Rainha. “, says paleontologist Elisabete Malafaia.

According to the scientist, the recent discovery of the megadinosaur serves to highlight the importance of the region’s heritage, which, in recent years, has already revealed other deposits of interest.

The researcher also points out that, despite the large number of dinosaur fossils identified in Portugal, there is no evidence that the country had a particularly large population of these animals. What would make the difference, in the Portuguese case, are the conditions that favor the conservation of these vestiges.

“The type of rocks that we have outcropping now in Portugal favors preservation”, he says.
“In the structure that we call the Lusitanian basin, we have a set of sedimentary rocks that allow the preservation of fossils from that period, especially from the Upper Jurassic, but from the entire Mezozoic era”, completes the paleontologist.

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