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More info on giant Spanish sauropod
From: Ben Creisler firstname.lastname@example.org
More info about newly discovered giant sauropod, with
Europe's Largest Dinosaur Rises from Spanish Fields
Mon Jul 12, 2004 10:14 AM ET
RIODEVA, Spain (Reuters) - Farmers in Riodeva cleared
stones from their almond orchards for generations, never
dreaming they were tossing aside dinosaur bones -- and
laying a trail for one of Spain's greatest fossil finds.
But when two palaeontologists stumbled across a field
scattered with the fragments they knew they had probably
found a valuable cache, and when digging began in early
2003 it revealed a horde beyond their wildest hopes.
The remains of the largest dinosaur found in Europe,
including an upper limb bone as big as a person -- 5.8
feet -- were nestling just below the surface in this
remote corner of the central Spanish region of Aragon.
"To find lots of bones is amazing. To find such a big
animal is extraordinary, and to find it in Europe is extra-
terrestrial," said Alberto Cobos, the man who recognized
the potential of the site.
The huge reptile, which weighed an estimated 40 to 50
tonnes, the same as six or seven elephants, probably
roamed the region up to 130 million years ago when it was
a tropical "dinosaur paradise," criss-crossed with rivers
Huge, perfectly preserved toe bone fossils and even a
single curved nail, larger than a human hand, were found
with a rib and leg and possibly pelvic bones.
The herbivore's bones were jumbled with remains from
other, smaller animals -- including teeth from carnivores
that may have feasted on its flesh.
Up to 114-feet long, the dinosaur could represent a new
species, although the team uncovering it is wary of
jumping to conclusions -- but its size alone is enough to
put Riodeva firmly on the map.
The largest known dinosaurs have been found in Latin
America and the new Spanish dinosaur claims the record for
Europe, Cobos said.
The province of Teruel, where Riodeva is located, was
already well known to Spanish dinosaur lovers. Its hills,
dramatically layered with red and white striped layers of
rock, are a treasure trove for fossil-hunters.
They yielded Spain's first dinosaur in 1872, and then just
over a century later the first new species was discovered
in the country, Aragosaurus.
But the latest find is the most exciting yet -- and its
discoverers hope it will boost interest and funds, partly
through raising the profile of Teruel's dinosaur theme
The Disney-like songs blaring from loudspeakers lining the
route to the entrance belie the seriousness of the
investigations the park helps support, but give some taste
of a complex that aims to entertain as much as educate.
Inside, a museum packed with rare and beautiful fossils is
almost empty, while children head for a "ride through
time" and cluster near a "feed the dinosaur" stall --
where they try to throw balls through the mouth of a
The decor is chunky faux-primitive, and the industrial-
looking lot it is set on is an incongruous place for a
journey through time, but business seems good and the
managers are as happy as the customers.
"My son has had a great time, although I'm not sure if its
been educational -- he is only 4 years old," said Cristina
Gallego, a 35-year-old administrator from the port of
The park seems to be succeeding in helping boost Teruel's
economy by capitalizing on the region's unusual assets.
Hotel capacity in the town is expected to climb 70 percent
by 2006, five years after the park opened, and it has
attracted 500,000 visitors, at 17 euros ($21) an adult
ticket, over three years.
The laboratory where the team take their fossils for
painstaking cleaning -- restoring a single bone can take
months -- is a key part of the Dinopolis complex, with a
glass wall so visitors can watch the experts at work.
As well as an attraction, it is a reminder that the park's
future depends on these paleontologists' devotion, as
their finds help drum up the publicity that keeps visitors
Teruel Palaeontology Foundation Director Luis Alcala says
he has no problems recruiting new staff and has identified
nearly 20 other sites that could hold remains.
But the latest giant discovery is likely to keep them busy
for a while.
Alacala says cheerfully they could still be combing the
field where they found it, millimeter by slow millimeter,
in 20 years' time.
© Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.