A new article published in the journal Nature details the discovery in Italy of eleven fossilized dinosaurs that probably once belonged to the same herd. Among them is the largest and most complete specimen ever discovered in the country.
The exceptional discovery of eleven dinosaurs
Italy is not really a “land of dinosaurs”. On the spot, only a few specimens have been unearthed, most of them in the last three decades. Nevertheless, a recent discovery emphasizes that there are still hidden paleontological gems in the country. A few months ago, researchers isolated no less than eleven dinosaurs at the site of Villaggio del Pescatore, an ancient limestone quarry near the city of Trieste.
All of them were ornithopod herbivores of the species Tethyshadros insularis. These dinosaurs lived about eighty million years ago and could grow up to five meters long. This herd includes the largest and most complete dinosaur skeleton ever unearthed in Italy. Paleontologists named the specimen “Bruno”.
In 1996, an almost complete and similar dinosaur skeleton named “Antonio” at the time had been unearthed at the same site. Initially, the researchers then assumed that this was a “dwarf species”. And for good reason, the European archipelago was once characterized by very fragmented continental masses. However, such environments tend to lead to the development of very small island dinosaurs.
However, the new discovery calls this hypothesis into question. Contrary to what was previously believed, Antonio was not a dwarf dinosaur, but rather a juvenile. And he probably belonged to the same herd.
A semi-marine environment
At the end of the Cretaceous, these dinosaurs evolved in a tropical, hot and humid environment. The site of Villaggio del Pescatore was also closer to the water than it is today, posted on the shore of the ancient route of the Mediterranean Sea. The discovery of fossils of fish, crocodiles, flying reptiles and small shrimps alongside this dinosaur herd provides further proof of this.
Finally, let’s recall that a few weeks ago, paleontologists detailed the discovery of an exceptionally preserved group of primitive dinosaurs showing signs of complex social behaviors 193 million years ago. That is, according to these works, some species were indeed already evolving in flocks at that distant time.