New Late Cretaceous Bonebed Discovered In Spain

Spanish Discoveries show Thriving Dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous

Spanish scientists have announced the discovery of a large dinosaur bonebed containing the remains of numerous dinosaurs, so far eight species of dinosaur have been identified amongst the 8,000 fossils unearthed.

The site, near the city of Cuenca in western Spain is being heralded as one of the largest dinosaur bonebeds found in Europe, although it will have to go a long way to beat the amazing Plateosaur bonebeds discovered recently on the Swiss/German border.

To read article on Swiss bonebeds:  Europe’s Largest Mass Dinosaur Grave to Date Discovered

However, the Spanish site, consists of sediments laid down in the Upper Cretaceous, approximately 80 million years ago (Campanian faunal stage) and the beautifully preserved finds provide a window onto a time period towards the end of the age of Dinosaurs.  Most fossil yielding sediments dating from this part of the Mesozoic are located in the Americas, accessing layers of strata from this time in Europe is a rare event.

The site was discovered in June during construction of a new high-speed rail link between Madrid and Valencia.  Construction work was halted to permit the scientists to remove many fossils from the path of the railway line.  Although the excavation is not complete the concentration of finds has impressed even the most hard-nosed of palaeontologists.  The remains of over 100 Titanosaurs (long-necked dinosaurs) have been identified, some of them nearly intact.  Interestingly, scutes and plates have been found at the site, indicating that these Titanosaurs probably had body armour like their South American cousin – Saltasaurus.

A model of Saltasaurus: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

Some scientists studying Campanian and Maastrichtian strata from North America have identified a notable decline in the species and diversity of dinosaurs in upper Cretaceous sediments.  This has led to claims that the dinosaurs were under environmental pressure and declining as a group before the extinction event 65 million years ago.  Evidence from this new site (the area is called Lo Hueco), supports studies of late Cretaceous dinosaurs from France indicating that at least in Europe, the dinosaurs show no signs of decline.

Other finds include the remains of a Struthiosaurus, a small, armoured Nodosaur (like an Ankylosaur but without the club tail) and possibly three different species of Dromaeosaur (fast-running, small, bipedal carnivores similar to Velociraptor).

One of the Researchers Amongst the Treasure Trove of Fossils

Picture Credit: Spanish Press

Note: The large bone in the foreground might be a femur or a humerus (thigh or arm bone).

Fossil evidence has also been found of an Ornithopod called Rhabdodon.  Remains of this Iguanodon-like animal have been found before in France, Spain and Romania but palaeontologists are unsure as to whether this animal was an Iguanodontid or a member of the Hypsilophodontidae.  Perhaps these new finds will help scientists classify this dinosaur.

The abundance of fossil animal and plant material recovered from the dig site, indicate a very rich and diverse ecosystem with no evident signs of environmental pressure.

 

4 Responses to “New Late Cretaceous Bonebed Discovered In Spain”

  1. Juvia says:

    Could you speak a little more about bone beds, because some people might not know what they are. Can bone beds form on Earth today?

    • Mike says:

      Bone beds are deposits of bones and other material all found together within a particular range of sedimentary strata. Bone beds represent accumulations of fossil material and they can be formed in a variety of ways. For example, an accumulation of bones and other organic material might build up over many years at bend in a large river, water washing down debris from further upstream may deposit material in the same place over many years, gradually building up a congregation of mixed up animal and plant remains. Alternatively, bone beds may be formed very quickly, a herd of dinosaurs trying to cross a river in spate might lead to a number of animals being drowned and their bodies accumulating together down stream in a mass grave of dinosaurs. There are other ways in which bone beds may form, and they are being formed today, I have seen gnu crossing the Mara river in Kenya, some animals would have drowned in the crush to get across and as a result their bodies would potentially form a bone bed to be found by future palaeontologists.

  2. Juvia says:

    How do bone beds form?

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