The remains of a large dinosaur found in La Rioja support a new species of spinosaurid

Fossil remains of a spinosaurid -carnivorous- dinosaur found in Igea (La Rioja), confirm that it is the most complete in the Iberian Peninsula and, possibly, in Europe, and, furthermore, that it may be a new species of this type of dinosaur , in the absence of its publication in the paleontological record.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
25 March 2023 Saturday 03:26
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The remains of a large dinosaur found in La Rioja support a new species of spinosaurid

Fossil remains of a spinosaurid -carnivorous- dinosaur found in Igea (La Rioja), confirm that it is the most complete in the Iberian Peninsula and, possibly, in Europe, and, furthermore, that it may be a new species of this type of dinosaur , in the absence of its publication in the paleontological record.

This is one of the main conclusions of the discovery of these remains, located in the "Virgen del Villar 2" site in the excavation campaign of July 2022, and which, after their study, have been presented this Friday, in Logroño, in an act attended by the team and the president of the Government of La Rioja, Concha Andreu.

The director of the investigation, the paleontologist and researcher at the University of the Basque Country, Xabier Pereda, has highlighted to EFE the scope of the find and the "exceptional nature of this site, which has not finished excavating and which is being very fruitful in its results".

Until now, four partial skeletons belonging to as many individuals of spinosaurids have been found in the Igea sites, some very fragmented, but those found in this last campaign -the fifth of the skeletons- he said, are the most complete and support the thesis of a new species of spinosaurid.

This has been detailed by Pereda, who has specified that in the coming months it will be confirmed that it is a new species, once all the investigation of the material found and published in the paleontological record has been completed.

He has also reported that the nomenclature of this new species of spinosaurids that inhabited the Iberian Peninsula will allude to La Rioja.

This new one will add to the three currently existing in the Iberian Peninsula, which are the "Vallibonavenatrix", located in Castellón; the "Camarillasaurus", in Teruel; and the "Iberospinus", in Portugal.

During the presentation of the results of the research, a restored arm of the spinosaurid was also shown -arm, forearm and hand bones, including claws-, as well as a real-size reconstruction of the living arm of the dinosaur.

It is estimated that the skeletal remains found would correspond to a dinosaur between 7 and 8 meters in length; 2.5 and 3 meters tall and an approximate body mass of 1,300 to 1,500 kilos, Pereda has reported.

The remains found of this great dinosaur, and which are deposited in the Igea Paleontological Center, are cranial bones, including part of a dentary that also preserves several alveoli and sections of the teeth, as well as isolated teeth.

Elements of the axial skeleton have been found, such as cervical, dorsal and caudal vertebrae, as well as ribs; a virtually complete forelimb, including elements of the arm, forearm, and hand, with several distal phalanges, or claws.

In addition, bones of the hind limb (leg) are part of the finding, such as the femur, tibia, metatarsals and phalanges, including claws and bones of the shoulder and pelvic girdles (hip).

Along with this large amount of bone remains of this spinosaurid, fossil remains of associated fauna and flora have appeared at the site, including remains of large bony fish, plant remains of ferns, arborescent plants and fossilized excrement, among others.

This quantity of the remains of this individual and their quality make it the most complete spinosaurid in the Iberian Peninsula and, possibly, in the European record, even rivaling the iconic English dinosaur Baryonyx, the director of the research has had an impact.

Spinosaurids are characterized by having an elongated skull and conical teeth like those of crocodiles, which made them top predators, mainly of fish, but also of other animals, such as lizards and crocodiles.

Probably, these animals that inhabited these places in La Rioja 120 million years ago, lurked along the shore of a large lake, that is, they waded like a heron in shallow water to catch fish and other vertebrates instead of actively swimming. Pereda has detailed.

He stressed that these findings make La Rioja a key region for understanding the evolution of this group of dinosaurs and, at the same time, a world reference in the study of spinosaurids.

Currently, this autonomous community has 11,000 ichnites (fossilized footprints) of sauropods, theropods and ornithopods from the Lower Cretaceous, distributed in 170 sites, which are entirely in their original state.

Thirty of them are included in the 'Route of the footprints' of La Rioja.