Friday, December 22, 2006

 

Turiasaurus: Giant Sauropod dinosaur found in Spain

Fossils of a giant Sauropod, found in Teruel Spain, reveal that Europe was home to giant dinosaurs in the Late Jurassic* period - about 150 million years ago. Giant dinosaurs have previously been found mainly in the New World and Africa.

This dinosaur may have been the most massive terrestrial animal in Europe.

The findings are published in the 22 December 2006 issue of the journal Science, published by AAAS, the nonprofit science society.

Researchers from the Fundacion Conjunto Paleontologico de Teruel-Dinopolis found dozens of sauropod bone fossils at the Barrihonda-El Humero site the Riodeva village, Teruel, Spain.

The new sauropod, Turiasaurus riodevensis, is named for the Teruel area (Turia) and the village where it was found.

The turiasaurus is estimated to have weighed between 40 and 48 tons (the weight of six or seven adult male elephants) and is comparable to the world's largest known dinosaurs, including Argentinosaurus and Brachiosaurus. At its estimated length, between 30 and 37 meters, the sauropod would be as long as an NBA basketball court. 'The humerus - the long bone in the foreleg that runs from the shoulder to the elbow - was as large as an adult,' said Brooks Hanson, Science's deputy editor, physical sciences.

Continued at "Giant Sauropod Dinosaur found in Spain"

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Based on the Science report:

"A Giant European Dinosaur and a New Sauropod Clade"

by Rafael Royo-Torres, Alberto Cobos, Luis Alcala

Abstract

Fossils of a giant sauropod dinosaur, Turiasaurus riodevensis, have been recovered from terrestrial deposits of the Villar del Arzobispo Formation (Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary) of Riodeva (Teruel Province, Spain). Its humerus length (1790 millimeters) and estimated mass (40 to 48 metric tons) indicate that it may have been the most massive terrestrial animal in Europe and one of the largest in the world. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that the fossil represents a member of a hitherto unrecognized group of primitive European eusauropods that evolved in the Jurassic.

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A related internet message from 2004 - "Giant Spanish Sauropod"

"Last 26 February the discovery of a gigantic Spanish sauropod was announced to the mass media. Currently, few is know of this sauropod, which it is still in process of digging under the direction of my colleague Rafael Royo, from the Conjunto Paleontologico de Teruel (Paleontological Network Foundation of Teruel) in Teruel, Spain.

Apart from the 178 cm long humerus and the 30 (or 35) cm long claw, remains of scapular and pelvic girdles, fore and hind limbs (including a complete manus) and vertebrae are known (Moreno, 2004)...

...The sauropod comes from the village of Riodeva, in the southernmost part of Teruel Province, Aragon autonomous community, Spain. The sauropod site is one of the seventeen known in Riodeva, with stegosaurs, theropod and sauropod remains (Royo-Torres et al., 2003), all recently discovered and still unpublished.

The age of this sauropod is controversial, it comes from continental beds overlying the Upper Jurassic marine beds, Probably it comes form the same formation (El Collado formation) that produce stegosaurs (Dacentrurus) and another sauropod (Losillasaurus) in the northermost part of the Valencia Province, and its age could be Uppermost Jurassic-Lowermost Cretaceous (Tithonian-Berriasian) or Lower Cretaceous (Barremian).

The new sauropod is near (20 km north) of Losilla de Aras, the small village that originated the Losillasaurus holotype (Casanovas et al., 2001).

It seems that gigantic sauropods were common in this age in Spain." (More)

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*Info on the Jurassic:

The Jurassic Period is a major unit of the geologic timescale that extends from about 199.6 plus or minus 0.6 Ma (million years ago), at the end of the Triassic to 145.4 plus or minus 4.0 Ma, at the beginning of the Cretaceous. As with other geologic periods, the rock beds that define the start and end of the period are well identified, but the exact dates are uncertain by 5 - 10 million years. The Jurassic constitutes the middle period of the Mesozoic era, also known as the Age of Dinosaurs. The start of the period is marked by the major Triassic-Jurassic extinction event.

The Jurassic was named by Alexandre Brogniart for the extensive marine limestone exposures of the Jura Mountains, in the region where Germany, France and Switzerland meet. (More)

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