More than 100 million years ago, a massive long-necked dinosaur met its demise in the current-day city of Pombal, Portugal.
In 2017, a property owner’s backyard construction project would lead to the discovery of the sauropod dinosaur’s bones. A research team with the University of Lisbon is beginning to unearth more of the skeleton, revealing what they say could be the largest dinosaur discovery in Europe.
According to the University of Lisbon, Portuguese and Spanish paleontologists unearthed large parts of the sauropod between Aug. 1 and 10, including the massive ribs and vertebrae. The fossils of the Monte Agudo site are well preserved, with bones in their correct anatomical positions.
"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", said Dr. Elisabete Malafaia, a researcher at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon.
Paleontologists believe the remains are those of a Brachiosaurus sauropod dinosaur that lived between 100 to 160 million years ago. The sauropod dinosaur group were herbivores with four legs, long necks and tails. The brachiosaurus group are among the largest dinosaurs that ever lived, weighing between 15 and 78 metric tonnes.
The paleontology team believes this dinosaur could have been up to 82-feet-long and nearly 40 feet tall, and there is still more to uncover.
Based on how the fossils are preserved and where they are deposited, the team believes there are other parts of the skeleton yet to be discovered during future excavation campaigns.
Researchers from Instituto Dom Luiz at Ciências ULisboa (Portugal), the Evolutionary Biology Group at UNED-Madrid and the Faculty of Fine Arts at Complutense University of Madrid are contributing to the work with the support of the Pombal City Council.
Malafaia said local paleontology in Pombal shows the area has important fossil records of Late Jurassic vertebrates.