Madrid – A Spanish paleontology foundation presented Tuesday the fossilized skull of the biggest dinosaur yet found in Europe, Turiasaurus riodevensis, a sauropod that lived 145 million years ago, measured more than 30 meters (100 feet) long and weighed some 40 tons.
The more than 35 bones of the skull and seven teeth, presented last Wednesday at the Paleontological Laboratory of Teruel's Dinopolis Foundation, were found during the 2005 excavation campaign in the Barrihonda-El Humero deposits in the Riodeva municipality.
According to researchers, skulls of this species of dinosaur are rarely found intact because of their extreme fragility - four out of every five sauropods whose remains have been found are missing the skull - but this time 70 percent of the fossil record was recovered.
"Turiasaurus riodevensis - some 30 to 35 meters (100 to 115 feet) long - thus becomes the most complete sauropod found on the Iberian Peninsula," the team wrote for an article in the Journal of Systematic Paleontology.
Researcher Rafael Royo said that the team of paleontologists took two years to prepare "meticulously," bone by bone, the material presented Tuesday and that it has been compared with other known fossils.
Royo said that, besides the fossil remains of the cranium, they have fragments from the neck, shoulder-level vertebrae, front and back feet, hips and shoulder blades.
The giant sauropods found up to now include Argentinosaurus in South America, Seismosaurus in North America, Giraffatitan and Paralititan in Africa, Mamenchisaurus in Asia, and Turiasaurus in Europe.
Of those, the only ones for which information about the skull has been found are Giraffatitan, Mamenchisaurus and now Turiasaurus.