Getting to Know Ampelosaurus

Ampelosaurus – Europe’s Best Known Sauropod?

Heralded by many a French palaeontologist as Europes’s best known Sauropod, Ampelosaurus,  a fifteen tonne, Late Cretaceous Titanosaur can lay claim to having been found on land famous for sparkling wines.  Fossils of dinosaurs had  been known from the Upper Aude valley of southern France since the 19th Century, there are even earlier reports about strange casts and stones being discovered in the area, but the first intensive exploration of the Cretaceous sediments did not take place until about forty years ago.  The first fossils of Ampelosaurus, rib bones, vertebrae and a single tooth were discovered by a French expedition in 1989, close to a highly respected vineyard.  Since then more than 500 fossils of this dinosaur have been excavated from a series of bone beds found in this locality.

The main bone bed of fossils is located close to a site known as “Bellevue”, the vast number of fossil bones have provided palaeontologists with a wealth of data, which is why Ampelosaurus is often claimed to be the best known Sauropod in Europe.

An Illustration of Ampelosaurus (Scale Drawing)

Ampelosaurus = "Vine Lizard".

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The fossils have been deposited in strata made up of fine to coarsely grained conglomerates and mudstone indicating that the bone beds represent the remnants of an ancient river bed.  The majority of the fossils are disarticulated and very badly eroded indicating that the bones of these dinosaurs may have been abraded as a result of the action of the river water.  However, all the fossils at this location represent a single species - Ampelosaurus atacis no other dinosaur remains have been found in association with these fossils.

Could this be evidence of a herd drowning together as they attempted to cross a swollen river?

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