By Chris King •
Published: 01 Oct 2023 • 17:19
Image of a palaeontologist at work.
Credit: Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock.com
DINOSAUR footprints said to be some 195 million years old were discovered in Alvaiázere, in the Portuguese district of Leiria.
According to a scientific study released on Friday, September 29, they are the oldest ever found on the Iberian Peninsula.
A statement from the Portuguese Centre for Geo-History and pre-History (CPGP) and the Polytechnic Institute of Tomar ( IPT) revealed: ‘The footprints were found in a layer of carbonate rocks (dolomitic limestone) from the Coimbra Formation, dating from the Sinemorian stage (Lower Jurassic)’.
‘These footprints have been attributed to ornithischian dinosaurs and crocodylomorphs. These animals left their footprints on a vast coastal plain, which existed at that time, where the municipality of Alvaiázere is currently located’, it continued.
Published in the international journal Historical Biology, this discovery by a multidisciplinary team of Portuguese researchers made it possible to identify a new species of dinosaur, called ‘Moyenisauropus lusitanicus’.
It also made it possible to: ‘Expand knowledge about the diversity of dinosaurs and other vertebrates known in the Jurassic fossil record European and world inferior’.
Dating back around 195 million years, this record, according to the CPGP, is the oldest occurrence of dinosaurs in the Iberian Peninsula.
Previously, the oldest were Sauropod footprints found in Pedreira do Galinha (Natural Monument of Dinosaur Footprints in the Serra de Aire), which were estimated to be around 170 million years old.
‘The fossil record from the Lower Jurassic in the Iberian Peninsula is scarce, thus constituting this work as an important contribution to the knowledge about Lower Jurassic dinosaurs at an international level and to the paleogeographic and paleobiological reconstitution of the Sinemurian of Portugal’, stated the CPGP.
Silvério Figueiredo, a palaeontologist who is a Professor at the Polytechnic Institute of Tomar and President and researcher at the Portuguese Center for Geo-History and Pre-History led the study. He also an associate researcher at the Geosciences centre at the University of Coimbra.
Researchers from the University of Coimbra also participated; from MARE – Centre for Marine and Environmental Sciences; the NaturTejo Geopark; from the D. Luís Institute of FCUL; from Al-Baiaz – Association for the Defense of Heritage and CAA-Portugal.
In addition to the researchers, three young secondary students also participated in the fieldwork, as part of a summer internship organized by Ciência Viva in partnership with CPGP and were included in the project, as reported by noticiasaominuto.com.
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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.
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