Paleontologists in Italy have uncovered up to eleven skeletons belonging to a dinosaur species that lived approximately 80 million years ago. Included in these remains is the largest and most complete dinosaur that has ever been discovered in the country.
The bones, which belonged to a dinosaur species named Tethyshadros insularis, were unearthed at a location called Villaggio del Pescatore which is close to the Italian city of Trieste. It is believed that the creature inhabited one of the European archipelago islands in the Tethys Ocean.
Tethyshadros insularis was a type of herbivorous Hadrosauroid that grew as long as 13 feet (4 meters) and weighed as much as 350 kilograms (772 pounds). It had a long skull, short neck, short tail, and long legs (especially its shin bones). With the proportions of its body along with the reduced number of fingers, it probably ran on two legs.
Among the dinosaurs found was a young one named “Antonio” – this was the first one that was discovered and was previously believed to have been a “dwarf species” but new studies conducted by the University of Bologna have indicated that it was just a juvenile. Since the site where the bones were found was once part of an island, experts initially thought that the creatures were a “dwarf species” because of the “island rule” which meant that animals living on islands became smaller in size due to the lesser amounts of resources.
Another dinosaur named “Bruno” was larger than “Antonio” but might have still been in the process of growing when it died. In total, there were at least seven dinosaurs that were unearthed, but researchers say that the number is probably eleven.
Since the site is 80 million years old – 10 million years older than previously believed – terrestrial animals like the dinosaurs may have been able to cross land bridges in what we know today as being Italy.
In addition to the dinosaurs, researchers found the remains of flying reptiles, crocodiles, fish, and small crustaceans. Their study was published in the journal Scientific Reports where it can be read in full.
Pictures of the skeletons as well as what Tethyshadros insularis would have looked like can be seen here.