25-metre-long dinosaur skeleton found in Portugal backyard could be largest ever unearthed in Europe

Image of a dinosaur skeleton found in Portugal. Credit: Instituto Dom Luiz (Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon)

A 25-metre-long dinosaur skeleton discovered in a man’s backyard in central Portugal could be the largest one ever found in Europe.

 

As reported by the Eurekalert site, on Wednesday, August 24, the 25-metre-long skeleton of what could possibly be the largest dinosaur to be found in Europe is being uncovered in a backyard in the city of Pombal, in the Leiria District of central Portugal.

It is believed the remains might be that of a sauropod dinosaur which would have stood approximately 12-metres tall, and they are currently being studied by an international research team.

It all started in 2017 when the owner of a property carrying out construction work noticed the presence of several fragments of fossilised bones in his yard. He subsequently contacted the research team which carried out its first excavation in that same year.

Between August 1 and 10 this year, Portuguese and Spanish palaeontologists working on the site have been unearthing the remains of what could be one of the largest sauropod dinosaurs ever found in Europe. Sauropods are herbivorous, quadrupedal dinosaurs, with long necks and tails.

“It is not usual to find all the ribs of an animal like this, let alone in this position, maintaining their original anatomical position. This mode of preservation is relatively uncommon in the fossil record of dinosaurs, in particular sauropods, from the Portuguese Upper Jurassic”, commented Elisabete Malafaia, a Postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon.

An important set of elements of the axial skeleton has been collected from the site so far. These include vertebrae and ribs of a possible brachiosaurid sauropod dinosaur. The Brachiosauridae group is composed of large species that lived from the Upper Jurassic to the Lower Cretaceous, approximately 160 to 100 million years ago, characterised by the presence of markedly 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 the Portuguese Late Jurassic species found in Portugal’s West region, Lusotitan atalaiensis.

The preservation characteristics of the fossils and their disposition 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 in the Monte Agudo paleontological locality confirms that the region of Pombal has an important fossil record of Late Jurassic vertebrates. In the last decades this region has provided the discovery of abundant materials very significant for the knowledge of the continental faunas that inhabited the Iberian Peninsula at about 145 million years ago”, added Elisabete Malafaia.

Researchers from Instituto Dom Luiz at Ciências ULisboa from Portugal, the Evolutionary Biology Group at UNED-Madrid in Spain, and the Faculty of Fine Arts at Complutense University of Madrid, again in Spain, are all involved in the research, with the support of the Pombal Council.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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