They found the skeleton of a dinosaur from 70 million years old that is fused from skull to tail

(CNN) — A discovery in southern France has revealed a rare specimen: a nearly complete dinosaur skeleton attached from the back skull to the tail.

The giant fossil was discovered in May 2022, when amateur paleontologist Damien Boschetto, now 25, and his dog stumbled upon something unusual while walking through a forest in Montouliers, France. Local media outlet France Bleu reported on 13 February that Boschetto had seen the edge of a cliff that had recently collapsed and decided to take a closer look when he saw a bone sticking out of the ground.

The Archaeological and Paleontological Cultural Association of the Cruize Museum, in collaboration with the French National Center for Scientific Research, identified the approximately 10 meter long fossil as a titanosaur skeleton during excavations. Boschetto, who has been a member of the association for eight years, told CNN that unearthing dinosaur remains is “always exciting and interesting for scientific research and understanding of the ecosystems of that time,” adding that the bones are in almost their original anatomical condition. Has been found in. This is what makes this discovery extraordinary.

“From a museographic point of view, this will allow almost complete animals to be presented to the general public in anatomical condition, which is a very good thing,” Boschetto said by email.

The giant fossil was discovered in May 2022, when a bone was exposed from the side of a collapsed cliff. Credit: Damien Boschetto

Jean-Marc Said, a group of people interested in history and archeology, founded the Archeology and Archaeological Cultural Association in 1975 to safeguard the heritage of the city of Cruzeiro, and many of its members are interested in fossils due to the abundance of dinosaur fossils in the area. Became a fan of science. Vessières, a member of the group and one of the authors of the fossil discovery. Today, the association is composed of residents of the area, including some scientists and students.

“The most exciting thing was to realize that we had at least one anatomically related animal and it was a titanosaur, a long-necked dinosaur,” Vessières said in an email. “(Bochetto) is a talented and curious nature lover, he spends a lot of time exploring the area in search of new places. (…) He became an expert on the fauna of the Upper Cretaceous of our region.

The association has been excavating the site for the past two years in what Boschetto calls a “bed of bones,” a term used by paleontologists to describe an area dense with animal bones and other fossilized remains. And the newly announced discovery was not Boschetto’s first.

During the excavation, 70% of the entire titanosaur skeleton was recovered, and it was recently revealed along with other fossils of various dinosaurs and vertebrates, some of which were in good anatomical relationship and nearly complete. According to Boschetto, other remains identified include fragments of the skeletons of Rhabdodon (a herbivore like the titanosaur) and carnivorous animals such as theropods and crocodiles.

Vessières said the titanosaur skeleton is currently in the laboratory of the Cruzeiro Museum, where it will be studied further.

Damien Boschetto (left) and Jean-Marc Vessières (right) are members of the Archaeological and Paleontological Cultural Association of the Cruize Museum, where the fossil is currently preserved. Credit: Damien Boschetto

intact titanosaur

Researchers estimate the age of the newly discovered fossil to be between 70 and 72 million years old, but titanosaurs roamed on four legs from about 163.5 to 66 million years ago, from the Late Jurassic to the end of the Cretaceous period. According to Britannica, titanosaurs belong to a large group of dinosaurs known as sauropods, a family of long-necked herbivores that were some of the largest dinosaurs of their time.

Boschetto said that fossil remains of titanosaurs are found widely in Europe, but little has been discovered in relation to their physical appearance. Matthew Carrano, research geologist and curator of Dinosauria at the National Museum of Natural History, said finding a skeleton in this joined state suggests that the body was buried before it was completely decomposed, “some of the tissue that held the bones together in a Let’s add to the second,” was omitted. Smithsonian Institution.

“The integrity of the specimen will make it easier to determine whether it is a new species or a new specimen of a previously known species,” Carrano said in an email. “It will take time to learn all the details about this new specimen, but I am sure it will provide important new information about this group of dinosaurs.”

The area where Boschetto discovered the specimen is known to be rich in fossils of dinosaurs and other species that lived at the same time, he said, and “is creating one of the largest collections of Late Cretaceous dinosaurs in France. ” He said the association did not make the discovery public until the excavation was completed to protect the archaeological site.

The association plans to continue research on fossils and further explore the area, and group members hope to secure funding to “build a large-scale museum that can house and present these collections ,” Boschetto said.


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