Barcelona, Spain, Feb 7 (EFE).- Scientists have identified a new species of dinosaur that once roamed Spain around 70 million years ago.
Coming in at 18 meters (60 feet) in length and weighing over 14 tons, Abditosaurus kuehnei was among the last of the titanosaurian sauropod communities in Europe before the extinction of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, the researchers said Monday.
It is characterized by its long neck and tail, small head and giant body size typical of the clade of sauropods, whose most famous members include the likes of the Diplodocus and Apatosaurus.
Researchers unearthed the fossilized remains of the specimen in the Catalonia county of Pallars Jussà, about 170 kilometers north-west of Barcelona.
It is the most-complete and largest sauropod fossil to be unearthed in what was the Ibero-Armorican landmass, which includes the modern-day Iberian Peninsula and parts of southern France.
During the Late Cretaceous period between 83 mya to 66 mya Europe was an expansive archipelago formed by dozens of islands, meaning that most of the creatures that evolved in the region were considerably smaller than their cousins in Africa, the Americas and Asia.
“It is a recurring phenomenon in the history of life on Earth and we have a lot of examples in our fossil registry, which is why we were so surprised by the huge dimensions of this specimen,” Bernat Vila, a paleontologist from the Miquel Crusafont Catalan Institute of Paleontology (ICP) said of the discovery.
Researchers from the ICP, the Conca Dellà Museum, the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the University of Zaragoza and the NOVA University Lisbon took part in the paleontological investigation.
The fossil remains of Abditosaurus include vertebrae, bits of pelvis and shoulder but the stand-out find was a semi-articulated fragment of neck composed of 12 cervical vertebrae, some of which are fused together.
The fossils will go on display at the Conca Dellà Museum in the town of Isona, near to where the discovery was made.
An article published in Nature Ecology and Evolution provided analysis concluding that the Abditosaurus originated from a group of sauropods native to the continents of Africa and South America.
Researchers believe the species could have arrived on the Ibero-Armorican landmass during a time of low sea levels, which would have permitted dinosaurs to migrate between Africa and Europe. EFE