Europe's "Biggest Dino" Discovered in Spain

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That find, a huge brachiosaur sauropod, measured at least 65 feet (20 meters) in length and weighed up to 40 tons.

"We knew that the Spanish had come up with a big animal and suspected they may well beat us," Martill said. "I think they have. We're second fiddle now."

Roaming the Continent

Turiasaurus belongs to a new branch of basal sauropods that had more primitive limb and bone structures than other giant species, the Spanish research team says.

These features include "primitive vertebrae with solid bone inside," Royo-Torres said, "while [brachiosaurs] had spongy bone."

He says the dinosaur shows that these sauropods originated in Europe 160 million years ago and that at least one of these more primitive sauropods "achieved gigantic size" independently of those found in other continents.

The new dinosaur had a claw on its pes, or hoof, the size of an American football, the researchers add.

The shape and worn state of its fossil teeth also indicate the herbivore ate hard vegetation, Royo-Torres said.

These teeth are similar to those found in France, Portugal, and England, suggesting Turiasaurus or closely related species of giant sauropods roamed other parts of Europe during the Jurassic period, the team says.

"I don't think there was any problem getting from Spain to England in those days," said Martill, of the University of Portsmouth.

"We're finding the dinosaurs that are turning up in Spain are the same species of dinosaurs that we're turning up here in England."

More on the Way?

Martill says the Spanish discovery suggests Europe had massive sauropods to match the size of those known from the New World.

"I'm sure that eventually we'll be turning up dinosaurs as big as the biggest," he said. "It's just that little bit of luck is needed.

"One of the reasons why perhaps we're not getting so many [in Europe] is that we don't have huge expanses of badlands like you have in North America and Argentina," Martill added.

"The amount of outcrop for us to look at is really quite small. Whereas if you go to Argentina you've got about 1,000 kilometers [620 miles] of badlands along the foot of the Andes, so you've got a much better chance of turning up remains."

Instead of finding a new dinosaur in Europe every year, he said, "we find bits of one every 10 years, so perhaps we've got to wait a bit longer before we find the real giants."

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