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The Titanosaur skeleton discovered in France is 70 million years old

The Titanosaur skeleton discovered in France is 70 million years old

Damian Bochetto

An almost complete skeleton of a dinosaur connected from its back skull to its tail has been discovered in Montolier, France.

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A chance discovery in southern France has revealed a rare specimen – an almost complete skeleton of a dinosaur connected from its back skull to its tail.

The massive fossil came to light in May 2022, after 25-year-old amateur paleontologist Damien Bocheteau and his dog found something unusual while walking in a forest in Montolier, France. Bochetto had noticed the edge of a cliff that had recently collapsed and decided to take a closer look, when he spotted an exposed bone sticking out of the ground, local media reported. France Blue It was first reported on February 13.

Archaeological and Paleontological Cultural Society of Crozi Museum, in collaboration with the French National Center for Scientific Research, identified the approximately 10-meter (32.8-foot) fossil as a titanosaur skeleton upon excavation. Bochetto, who has been a member of the society for eight years, told CNN that although the discovery of dinosaur remains is always “exciting and interesting for scientific research and understanding of the ecosystems of the time,” finding the bones in almost their original anatomical position is… What makes this discovery unusual.

“From a museological point of view, this will enable almost complete animals in their anatomical positions to be presented to the general public, which is great,” Bochetto added via email.

A group of history and archaeology enthusiasts established the Société Cultural des Archaeologiques et Paleontology in 1975 to protect the heritage around the village of Crozy, and many members became enlightened amateurs in paleontology because of the area's wealth of dinosaur fossils, Jean-Marc Vissière said. A member of the group and one of the fossil preparers for this discovery. Today, the association consists of residents of the region, including a few scholars as well as students.

“The most exciting thing was our realization that we had at least one animal that was anatomically related, and that it was a titanosaur, a long-necked dinosaur,” Vissiere said in an email. “(Bochetto) is an informed and curious nature enthusiast, he spends a lot of time scanning the area for new areas. …become an expert on the Late Cretaceous fauna of our region.

The association carried out excavations at the site, which Bochetto referred to as A Orthopedic bed, a term used by paleontologists to describe a dense area of ​​animal bones and other fossilized remains, over the past two years. The newly announced discovery was not Bochetto's first.

The recently uncovered 70% complete Titosaurus skeleton was recovered during the excavation along with numerous fossils of various dinosaurs and other vertebrates, including some nearly complete anatomical correlates. Other remains identified include those of A Rhabdodon — herbivores, or plant-eaters, such as titanosaurs — and fragments of skeletons of carnivores such as Theropods And crocodiles, according to Bochetto.

The titanosaur skeleton is currently in the Croze Museum laboratory, where it will be studied further, Vissiere said.

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Damian Bochetto

Damien Bocheteau (left) and Jean-Marc Visier (right) are members of the Société Cultural Archaeologique et Palaeontologie at the Croze Museum, where the fossil is now kept.

The researchers estimated the age of the newly discovered fossil at about 70 to 72 million years, but titanosaurs roamed on four legs from the late Stone Age. Jurassic period To the end Cretaceous period, approximately 163.5 million to 66 million years ago. Titanosaurs belong to a larger group of dinosaurs known as sauropods, a family of long-necked herbivores that were among the largest dinosaurs of their time. According to Britannica.

Bochetto said fossil remains of titanosaurs have been widely discovered in Europe, but little has been discovered in terms of anatomy. He said finding a skeleton in this connected state indicates that the body was buried before it fully decomposed, leaving “some tissue that holds the bones together.” Matthew CaranoResearch geologist and curator of dinosaurs at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History.

The completion of the sample “will make it easier to determine whether it is a new species or a new specimen of an already known species,” Carano said in an email. He added: “It will take some time to learn all the details about this new specimen, but I am sure it will provide important new information about this group of dinosaurs.”

He said the area where Bocheteau discovered the specimen is known to be rich in fossils of dinosaurs and other species that lived at the same time, and it “builds one of the largest collections of dinosaurs from the Upper Cretaceous in France.” He added that the association did not announce the discovery until after the completion of excavation work to protect the archaeological site.

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The society plans to continue searching for fossils and continue research in the area, and members of the group hope to obtain the necessary funds “to establish a large-scale museum that can accommodate and display these collections,” Bochetto said.