Welcome to Italy’s ‘dinosaur trove’! Remains of up to 11 creatures are uncovered near Trieste dating back 80 million years – including the biggest and most complete dinosaur EVER found in the country
- The biggest and most complete dinosaur ever found in Italy has been discovered
- Fossilised bones belonging to species Tethyshadros insularis found near Trieste
- Researchers at University of Bologna said the dinosaur lived 80 million years ago
- First skeleton found was identified as ‘dwarf’ species but new study disputes this
The biggest and most complete dinosaur ever found in Italy is among the remains of up to 11 such creatures uncovered by paleontologists.
Fossilised skeletons belonging to the species Tethyshadros insularis were discovered at a site called Villaggio del Pescatore near Trieste.
Researchers said the dinosaur lived on an island of the European archipelago in the Tethys Ocean 80 million years ago.
Fossilised skeletons belonging to the species Tethyshadros insularis (pictured in an artist’s impression) were discovered at a site called Villaggio del Pescatore near Trieste
The skeleton of Bruno, an adult Tethyshadros insularis described in this new study
Size: 13ft (4 metres) long
Known locations: Italy
Time period: Late Campanian of the Cretaceous
It had been believed that the first Tethyshadros insularis skeleton found at the site was a ‘dwarf species’, but the latest study by the University of Bologna disputes this.
The team of experts said ‘Antonio’, as the first skeleton was dubbed, was actually a young dinosaur after discovering another one named ‘Bruno’ that was bigger in size and may still have been growing at the time of its death.
Geologists had previously said the Villaggio del Pescatore site, dubbed a ‘dinosaur trove’, was part of an island in the middle of a ‘proto-Mediterranean’ ocean called Tethys.
This led to experts incorrectly identifying Antonio as a ‘dwarf’ species because they thought it was an example of the so-called ‘island rule’ — the evolutionary miniaturisation of bigger animals in an insular environment due to the scarcity of resources.
Skeletal reconstructions of the two Tethyshadros insularis dinosaurs, with the younger specimen nicknamed ‘Antonio’ above and the older, newly-described skeleton of ‘Bruno’ below
The bones of ‘Antonio’ under the microscope, showing the bone cells (black, circled dots). The fossilised bone tissues were analysed to calculate the age of the dinosaurs at the time of death
The study found there were at least seven and probably 11 dinosaurs at Villaggio del Pescatore
The study found there were at least seven and probably 11 dinosaur skeletons at Villaggio del Pescatore, as well as the remains of fish, crocodiles, flying reptiles and even small crustaceans.
It also suggests that the site is about 10 million years older than previously thought, dating back around 80 million years to the Cretaceous period.
At that time, what is now north-eastern Italy was a land facing a vast ocean but connected to western Europe and Asia.
This means that not only small islands made up the ancient Mediterranean, but many migratory routes for large terrestrial animals like the dinosaurs might have been possible across land bridges of what we nowadays call Italy.
The research has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.
The skull of ‘Bruno’, the newly described skeleton of the dinosaur Tethyshadros insularis
The paleontological site of Villaggio del Pescatore, with experts working to extract the fossils from the ‘dinosaur trove’
KILLING OFF THE DINOSAURS: HOW A CITY-SIZED ASTEROID WIPED OUT 75 PER CENT OF ALL ANIMAL AND PLANT SPECIES
Around 66 million years ago non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out and more than half the world’s species were obliterated.
This mass extinction paved the way for the rise of mammals and the appearance of humans.
The Chicxulub asteroid is often cited as a potential cause of the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event.
The asteroid slammed into a shallow sea in what is now the Gulf of Mexico.
The collision released a huge dust and soot cloud that triggered global climate change, wiping out 75 per cent of all animal and plant species.
Researchers claim that the soot necessary for such a global catastrophe could only have come from a direct impact on rocks in shallow water around Mexico, which are especially rich in hydrocarbons.
Within 10 hours of the impact, a massive tsunami waved ripped through the Gulf coast, experts believe.
Around 66 million years ago non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out and more than half the world’s species were obliterated. The Chicxulub asteroid is often cited as a potential cause of the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event (stock image)
This caused earthquakes and landslides in areas as far as Argentina.
While investigating the event researchers found small particles of rock and other debris that was shot into the air when the asteroid crashed.
Called spherules, these small particles covered the planet with a thick layer of soot.
Experts explain that losing the light from the sun caused a complete collapse in the aquatic system.
This is because the phytoplankton base of almost all aquatic food chains would have been eliminated.
It’s believed that the more than 180 million years of evolution that brought the world to the Cretaceous point was destroyed in less than the lifetime of a Tyrannosaurus rex, which is about 20 to 30 years.