In 2017, a man in Pombal, Portugal, got the biggest surprise when he dug up a giant skeleton on his property while continuing construction. He reached out to the University of Lisbon’s Paleontology division, but he was giddy with anticipation instead of feeling scared. Upon further inspection, he concluded that the remains he had uncovered were indeed fossilized bones from a bygone era and that they likely belonged to a dinosaur. The University of dig team got to work as soon as they got the call. Five years later, in August 2022, scientists are confident that the fossils belong to a Sauropod, likely a Brachiosaurus. These dinosaurs were the largest ever to walk the Earth.
The Dug Up
The property owner in Pombal, Portugal, found “several fragments of fossilized bones” in his yard in 2017 while doing construction. This is according to a press release from the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Lisbon. In addition, Portuguese and Spanish paleontologists discovered fragments of what they believe to be the “largest sauropod dinosaur” earlier in the month. It is estimated that Brachiosaurus stood at the height of 39 feet and had a length of 82 feet at its full maturity. These were strictly herbivorous, four-legged dinosaurs with long necks. They were discovered during the Late Jurassic Period, corresponding to approximately 160 million to 100 million years ago.
Dr. Elisabete Malafaia, a researcher, described the dinosaur skeleton found in the man’s backyard as a “beautifully preserved specimen.” She also stated that it was uncommon to see all of an animal’s ribs in their original anatomical position, let alone in this position. She added, “This preservation mode is uncommon in the fossil record of dinosaurs, especially sauropods from the Portuguese Upper Jurassic.” Researchers from the university have collaborated with the Evolutionary Biology Group at UNED-Madrid and the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Complutense University of Madrid to unearth the relics.
Malafaia told CBS News that the ribs measured approximately three meters – or nearly 10 feet – in length and are “the largest known sauropod ribs in Europe and one of the largest described globally.” Researchers believe that other parts of the dinosaur’s skeleton will be discovered nearby due to the dinosaur’s preservation characteristics. Next year, Malafaia intends to return. According to her, the region of Pombal has yielded an abundance of fossil sites, indicating that “dinosaurs and other vertebrates are abundant in the fossil record.”
“This fossil record has contributed crucial information to our understanding of the faunas that inhabited the Iberian Peninsula during the Late Jurassic,” she said.
More Dinosaur Tracks Along the Paluxy River
Extreme drought in Texas has also provided a rare glimpse of dinosaur footprints preserved in stone approximately 113 million years ago, but they will soon vanish. About 140 kilometers south-southwest of Dallas, a river bed in Dinosaur Valley State Park contains preserved footprints with long claw marks.
Acrocanthosaurus, a carnivorous dinosaur that stood approximately four meters tall and weighed tens of thousands of kilograms, left footprints along what is now the Paluxy River bed. Jeff Davis, the park superintendent, reports that the Paluxy River has dried up more than usual due to months of scorching, dry weather. Davis stated, “This is an extremely rare sighting of exposed tracks.” They are typically covered in sandbars, gravel, and deep water. According to him, the three-toed “Acro” tracks were made by a two-legged carnivore with a similar body shape to the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
“They are submerged in mud and water the majority of the time. Only during extreme drought do some species become visible.” Baker, who manages the Dinosaur Valley Park Store and volunteers at Glen Rose, Texas park, stated this. He and other volunteers use whisk brooms and leaf blowers to clear the tracks so visitors can see them. The Saur Poseidon, an herbivore that stood about 18 meters tall and weighed 39 tons, was among the other species whose tracks were discovered in the park. The Saur Poseidon is a type of sauropod dinosaur with elephant-like footprints. The prints were made during the Cretaceous period, when the zone was a shallow inland sea, long before a rolling prairie in central Texas. Davis stated that by Wednesday, rains had already begun to fill in the ancient tracks and would soon cover the park’s hidden treasures with mud and silt.