Remains Of One Of Europe’s Largest Dinosaurs Discovered In Castellón Municipality of Morella

Image of the site in Morella, Castellon, where dinosaur remains were found.

Image of the site in Morella, Castellon, where dinosaur remains were found. Credit: Twitter@PD_Mocho

THE remains of a giant sauropod that lived in Spain some 122 million years ago has been discovered on the Iberian Peninsula.

This exciting new species of dinosaur, which the team of paleontologists has called Garumbatitan morellensis, was identified from remains found in the Castellón municipality of Morella.

Their new find has helped to expand the previously known diversity in one of the best records from the Early Cretaceous in Europe.

The remains that emerged in the Els Ports de Morella region contained an abundant collection of dinosaurs from the Lower Cretaceous period, according to abc.es.

The new species has been named Garumbatitan morellensis

In this context, the team in question recently published a study in the prestigious Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, in which it described a new species of dinosaur which they have named Garumbatitan morellensis.

The new species belongs to the popular sauropod group, which is composed of quadrupedal herbivores with long tails and necks that may have reached colossal dimensions. Their remains were discovered in the sediments around the town of Morella.

These remains were first found in 2005 and 2008 at the Morella site of Sant Antoni de la Vespa. Fossil elements of at least four individuals were identified, three of them belonging to the new species.

The site in Morella is famous for its discoveries

One of the largest concentrations of sauropod dinosaur remains from the Lower Cretaceous period found to date in Europe was uncovered at this site.

Sant Antoni de la Vespa is a key location for the study of the dinosaur faunas of Spain from this period. One of the individuals found stands out for its large size, with vertebrae more than a metre wide, and a femur that could measure nearly two metres high.

Exceptionally, two almost complete articulated feet, which are particularly rare in the fossil record, were found at the site in Morella.

The article published by the team of paleontologists presents a detailed description of the fossil remains found in Sant Antoni de la Vespa.

It identifies a set of anatomical characteristics different from those of the rest of the sauropod dinosaurs. Garumbatitan is characterised by the unique morphology of the femur (the upper leg bone) and the elements of the foot. The femur has a morphology commonly found in Late Cretaceous sauropods.

This new study analysed the relationship between Garumbatitan morellensis and the rest of the sauropod dinosaurs from the Lower Cretaceous of the Iberian Peninsula.

This new species belonged to the Somphospondyli group

The new species identified in Morella was one of the most primitive members of a group of sauropods called Somphospondyli. This group was one of the most diverse and abundant during the Cretaceous and became extinct at the end of the Mesozoic period.

Finally, the study revealed the complex evolutionary history of European Cretaceous sauropods – particularly from the Iberian Peninsula – with species related to lineages present in Asia and North America, as well as with some groups close to forms from the African continent.

This suggests the existence of moments of dispersal of faunas between these continents. The future restoration of the rest of the fossil material found at this site will add key information for understanding the initial evolution of the sauropods that dominated the dinosaur faunas during the millions of years of the Mesozoic era.

Garumbatitan morellensis has a double reference

Garumbatitan morellensis is a name that contains a double reference: Garumbatitan means ‘the giant of the Garumba’, because the specimen was found at the base of the Muela de la Garumba, one of the highest mountains in the Els Ports region.

The specific name morellensis refers to the locality where the site is located. Fossilised remains of Garumbatitan morellensis form part of one of the largest collections of fossil vertebrates from the Spanish Mesozoic deposited in the Museu Temps de Dinosaures de Morella, which is part of the Xarxa de Museus de la Generalitat Valenciana.

Led by Pedro Mocho, from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, the study is part of the projects developed by the Evolutionary Biology Group of the UNED in the Morella area.

Referring to the amazing find, he tweeted: ‘#Garumbatitan morellensis is one of the most complete taxa from the Early Cretaceous of Iberian Peninsula being a early branching member of Somphospondyli and based on 3 fantastic specimens from the Sant Antoni de la Vespa fossil-site, Morella (#Spain)’.

In addition to different members of this group, researchers from the Catalan Institute of Palaeontology, the Vila-real Guix Group, Valencia’s Museum of Natural Science, Jaume I University of Castelló, and the Autonomous University of Madrid also participated in the publication.

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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 editorial@euroweeklynews.com

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