8 July 2004
RIODEVA – The bones of a vast animal that might have fed on trees have been discovered in a semi-desert area of eastern Spain, researchers said Thursday.
Researchers have found a humerus bone from the upper foreleg measuring 1.85m (six feet) and weighing 150kg (330 pounds) indicating it came from an animal more than 30m (100 feet) in length and weighing 50 tons, the equivalent of up to seven male elephants.
Scientists believe the bones came from a Sauropod, a lizard-like dinosaur that lived in the Cretaceous age from 145 to 65 million years BC.
If their hunch is confirmed, it would be the largest dinosaur discovered in Europe and possibly almost as big as champion heavyweights such as Argentinausorus, found in Patagonia, which from the evidence of a foot and three ribs was probably longer than 35m.
The four-legged Sauropods, which had tiny a brain, a long neck and tail, is believed to have been vegetarian, munching on large trees the way people crunch celery sticks.
Although Spain used to be covered with dense forest, the place where the bones were discovered is a rocky, deserted wasteland of worked-out mines and abandoned villages.
The Riodeva dig resembles nothing more exciting than a heap of stones.
Palaeontologists Alberto Cobos and Rafael Royo found the bones last year after tramping for days across the foothills of Teruel.
“The discovery is important because it is the most complete dinosaur we have found,” said Luis Alcala, president of the palaeontological laboratory in Teruel, the nearest town.
“It is of gigantic size, the biggest in Europe and one of the biggest in the world,” Alcala added.
“We think we are in the face of something new, certainly a species unknown until now.”
The laboratory is attached to Dinopolis, a dinosaur theme park opened in 2001.
No one can say how long it will take to identify and recover the scattered remains of the Sauropod.
“It took three months of painstaking work by three people to extract, clean and assemble the pieces of the humerus,” Alcala said.
At the site, where excavations are continuing, palaeontologist Rafael Royo is exploring what he thinks is a talus bone from the animal’s lower leg.
But a bigger prize might be in the offing. “I have an intuition that we will find the head,” he said.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news