The skeleton of a massive dinosaur was discovered in a man’s backyard in Pombal, Portugal, and it could be the largest ever found in Europe, according to a news release published Wednesday.
The property owner noticed fragments of fossilized bones in his yard when carrying out construction in 2017, and contacted a research team, which launched an initial excavation campaign the same year, the news release said.
Earlier this month, paleontologists from Spain and Portugal worked at the site for over a week and they believe they have unearthed remains of the largest sauropod dinosaur to ever be found on the continent, according to the release. Sauropods are plant-eating, four-legged dinosaurs with long necks and tails. This dinosaur measured about 39 feet tall and 82 feet long.
“It is not usual to find all the ribs of an animal like this, let alone in this position, maintaining their original anatomical position. This mode of preservation is relatively uncommon in the fossil record of dinosaurs, in particular sauropods, from the Portuguese Upper Jurassic,” Elisabete Malafaia, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Lisbon, said in a statement.
The most important elements of the skeleton have been collected from the site, which includes the vertebrae and ribs of a possible brachiosaurid sauropod, or brachiosaurus, the news release said. The dinosaur species traveled the Earth 160 to 100 million years ago.
Due to the dinosaur’s preservation characteristics, researchers believe other parts of its skeleton will also be found.