It's not unusual to discover a variety of buried objects when undertaking construction work. Old bits of metal, glass, and pottery are fairly common finds. But the fossilized remains of what could be the largest dinosaur discovery in Europe, and perhaps the world? Not such an everyday occurrence.
During a home renovation in 2017, a man in Pombal, central Portugal, got in touch with the University of Lisbon after noticing what looked like bone fragments in his backyard. Sure enough, excavations this summer proved that the remains belonged to a large sauropod. Sauropods are those instantly recognizable gigantic herbivorous dinosaurs with long necks and long tails, such as the famous Brachiosaurus.
(Really, really big) bones in the backyard:
- Unusually, the vertebrae and ribs (which happen to be 10 feet, or 3 meters, long) were well preserved, and in their original anatomical placement. Based on the size of these bones, paleontologists estimate that the creature would have been up to 39 feet (12 m) tall and 82 feet (25 m) long.
- Like all sauropods, this dinosaur would have lived between 100 and 160 million years ago (the Upper Jurassic to the Lower Cretaceous).
- Further excavations are planned for next year, as paleontologists believe there could be more fossils to uncover at the site.