New giant ornithopod discovered in Spain

In a groundbreaking discovery, researchers from the Fundación Conjunto Paleontológico de Teruel-Dinópolis and Museo Aragonés de Paleontología in Spain have unveiled the details of a new dinosaur species from the Upper Jurassic period. Published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, their paper sheds light on the evolutionary history of a diverse group of ornithopod dinosaurs known as Ankylopollexia.

The newfound species has been named Oblitosaurus bunnueli and is believed to be an early form of Ankylopollexia due to its age, dating back to approximately 161.5 million to 145 million years ago. This giant ornithopod likely measured around 6 to 7 meters in length, making it not only the largest ornithopod found in the Upper Jurassic of Europe but also one of the largest known worldwide.

The discovery may also help resolve a long-standing mystery surrounding large ornithopod footprints found in the South Iberian basin. Previous findings of tracks measuring between 25 and 33 centimeters in Spain and Portugal required a larger ornithopod species than previously described. The estimated footprints produced by Oblitosaurus bunnueli are between 29 and 31 centimeters long, making it a strong candidate to explain these enigmatic tracks.

Additionally, other extremely large ornithopod tracks have been discovered in Portugal and Yemen, indicating that there may be even more colossal ornithopod species yet to be unearthed.

The fossils of Oblitosaurus bunnueli were found in the Villar del Arzobispo Formation, a part of the Upper Jurassic of the South-Iberian Basin. During this period, the region’s terrestrial ecosystems were dominated by large herbivorous and carnivorous dinosaurs, including sauropods, stegosaurs, and theropods. The Barrihonda-El Humero fossil site, where the new discovery was made, has also yielded remains of sauropods, stegosaurs, theropods, fishes, and turtles.

The fossils of Oblitosaurus bunnueli include a tooth, a digit, and an almost complete left hindlimb. These fossils were discovered at the same site and are believed to belong to the same individual due to their relative proximity and consistent size and features. They are currently housed in the Museo Aragonés de Paleontología in Teruel, Spain. This exciting find opens up new possibilities for understanding the evolutionary history of ornithopod dinosaurs and provides valuable insights into the prehistoric world.

Fun fact

The remarkable new dinosaur genus, Oblitosaurus bunnueli, has been given a unique name, paying tribute to the renowned Spanish film director Luis Buñuel. Luis Buñuel is celebrated for his groundbreaking and surreal films, and the naming of this dinosaur after him is a fitting acknowledgment of the discovery’s significance to the region of Teruel, where Buñuel was born, and where the fossils were unearthed and are currently housed.

The name “Oblitosaurus” holds a meaningful connotation as it translates to “forgotten lizard.” This title appropriately reflects the essence of any newly discovered dinosaur and also serves as a nod to one of Buñuel’s most famous works, “Los Olvidados,” meaning “The Forgotten Ones” in Spanish. For English-speaking audiences, this film is known as “The Young and the Damned,” which could also be a fascinating name for a dinosaur, perhaps one that lived closer to the time of the K-T extinction event.

In this manner, the naming of Oblitosaurus bunnueli not only celebrates the scientific discovery but also pays tribute to the artistic legacy of Luis Buñuel, creating a beautiful fusion of paleontology and cinema in the province of Teruel.

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