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Five-metre neckbone from 145-million-year-old dinosaur unearthed in Teruel
10 June 2021 @ 16:31

A PERFECTLY-INTACT piece of a sauropod spine dating back around 145 million years has been unearthed in the province of Teruel – and even though it is five metres (16'6”) long, it is only a small section of the entire backbone.

The fossil discovered near the village of Camarillas – which is known to be a hotbed of dinosaur remains – is made up of 15 vertebrae, and this huge articulated string of bones is only the creature's neck.

In fact, as yet, other than being identified as a giant sauropod, the exact species has not been determined and may even be one not yet documented.

Palaeontologists from Zaragoza University's 'Aragosaurus-IUCA' unit, along with the Miquel Crusafont Catalunya Palaeontology Institute (ICP), jointly led by post-PhD researcher Dr Diego Castanera and Zaragoza historian José Ignacio Canudo, made up the excavation team which found the massive piece of ancient reptile anatomy.

Dr Castanera says each vertebra is at least 30 centimetres (a foot) long and a metre (3'3”) high and, subject to alternative information arising whilst restoring the skeleton, it is thought the original dinosaur may have been over 25 metres (82'6”) long.

This means that as well as being one of the best-preserved remains discovered in recent history, it could have belonged to the biggest dinosaur known to walk the earth – or, at least, the part of the earth that is now the continent of Europe.

Also, the sheer size of the fossil meant extracting it was an extremely complex operation.

They had to pour liquid plaster of Paris into the dig around the vertebrae to cushion them, and the structure had to be split into two to lift out as it was too heavy to do so otherwise without mechanical means that would have presented a major risk of damage to it. 

After this, the team had to build an iron frame to fashion a giant cardboard box around, which they lowered the neck-bone into, packed with polystyrene loops for protection.



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