Between August 1-10, 2022, a team of Portuguese and Spanish paleontologists worked at the paleontological site in Pombal, Portugal. (Credit: Instituto Dom Luiz, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Lisbon)
A post-fossil find shows that dinosaurs were wide variety of shapes and sizes, with some of the most significant morphological variation of any animal in the terrestrial world. While the biggest towered above the treetops, smallest they looked like nothing more than small, running lizards, not a full inch from tip to tail.
According to a press release, paleontologists discovered the fossils of what appears to be the largest dinosaur ever discovered in Europe. Likely a sauropod, the dinosaur stood approximately 40 feet tall and was about 80 feet long.
A large fossil find
About five years ago, after spotting several fossilized fragments on a private property in Pombal, Portugal, a team of scientists began their search. This August, they discovered fossilized ribs of a large sauropod — a long-legged dinosaur with a long neck that loves green leaves. As they continue to dig, they soon realize that they have discovered the largest dinosaur in Europe.
“The study,” says Elizabeth Malafaia, a paleontologist from the site and the University of Lisbon, in a press release, “confirms that the Pombal region has an important vertebrate fossil from the Late Jurassic, which in recent decades has provided the discovery of an abundance of material very important to know of the continental fauna that inhabited the Iberian Peninsula about 145 million years ago.
By this time, paleontologists had recovered much of the axial skeleton, including the vertebral bodies and ribs. The structure of the exposed part suggests that the sauropod may have belonged to the brachiosaurid group, a genus that lived about 160 to 100 million years ago and possessed a steeply sloping trunk and a set of longer forelimbs than hindlimbs.
“It is not common to find all the ribs of an animal like this, let alone in this position, retaining their original anatomical position.” This mode of preservation is relatively uncommon in dinosaur fossils, particularly sauropods, from the Portuguese Upper Jurassic,” Malafaia said in a press release.
According to the team, the positioning and quality of preservation of the fossils suggest that additional parts of the sauropod skeleton may have remained in the surrounding sediment, waiting for future excavations to reveal.