Imagine doing some gardening and coming across the skeleton of one of the largest dinosaurs to have roamed the Earth.
I usually get excited when I find a coin in my backyard. Imagine doing some gardening work and coming across a bone fragment. Imagine digging deeper and finding an actual bone. You keep digging, removing precious soil that kept your garden looking well, and finding a bone so large you’ve never seen before in your life.
Imagine continuing to dig and finding a dinosaur.
This is exactly what happened to a man from Portugal, who eventually excavated the fossilized remains of one of the largest dinosaurs to have walked the Earth, a brachiosaurus.
Once the dino bones were dug up, the analysis discovered they belonged to a 25-meter brachiosaurus that lived between 160 and 100 million years ago, in what may be the largest sauropod dinosaur — a subgroup characterized by its long four legs, neck, tail, and herbivorous diet—never found in Europe before.
As a result of its discovery in Colorado in 1900, Brachiosaurus was named by Elmer Riggs of the Field Museum in Chicago in 1903. In the Jurassic period, Brachiosaurus was believed to have roamed both the United States and Africa (Tanzania) and Europe (Portugal). Africa and North America were believed to have been connected during the Jurassic period. In spite of this, it is now believed that the African species of Brachiosaurus belong to another genus, Giraffatitan.
Elisabete Malafaia, a researcher at the University of Lisbon, said it is rare to find all the ribs of such a creature intact, never mind in this position.
“This mode of preservation is relatively uncommon in the fossil record of dinosaurs —particularly sauropods— from the Portuguese Late Jurassic.”
When a Pombal homeowner was working in his garden in 2017, he noticed fossilized bone fragments. Later that year, the Monte Agudo site was excavated by the research team.
However, it wasn’t until earlier this month that Portuguese and Spanish paleontologists announced what they had discovered: a sauropod dinosaur that measured 40 feet tall and 82 feet long. As of now, brachiosaurid vertebrae and ribs have been discovered in the axial skeleton.
The Brachiosauridae lived from the Upper Jurassic to the Lower Cretaceous. In comparison with other sauropods, they have longer forelimbs than hindlimbs, which results in a longer torso and proportionately shorter tail. Among these dinosaurs are Brachiosaurus altithorax, a computer-generated dinosaur in Jurassic Park from 1993, and Lusotitan atalaiensis, a dinosaur discovered in western parts of Portugal.
Other parts of the skeleton may still be present at the site, as indicated by the conservation characteristics of the fossils. Future excavation campaigns will investigate these possibilities.
Researchers at Monte Agudo have confirmed the region of Pombal harbors an important fossil record of vertebrates from the Upper Jurassic, Malafaia said.
Over the past several decades, the region has provided abundant evidence for understanding the continental faunas that inhabited the Iberian Peninsula about 145 million years ago.
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