During the dinosaur rule between 230 million and 66 million years ago, it was difficult to map the ancient Mediterranean region. It was composed of countless small islands far away from all major continents (Europe, Africa, and Asia)–not suitable for large-scale dinosaurs. Animal survival. In other words, the researchers thought so before.
Now, a new study published in Scientific Reports, coordinated by researchers from the University of Bologna, has uncovered the first paleontological site in Italy with multiple unusually complete dinosaur skeletons: the Villaggio del Pescatore site, located in northeastern Italy Duino-Aurisina near Trieste.
These skeletons belong to the species Tethyshadros insularis and represent the largest and most complete dinosaur found in this country. The team described the skeletons of some of the most beautiful and primitive dinosaurs from the site (especially a new individual nicknamed “Bruno”) and emphasized that seven (possibly eleven) individuals appeared in Villaggio del Pescatore .
Dinosaurs are not the only fossils found at the site: fish, crocodiles, flying reptiles, and even small crustaceans provide researchers with a vivid picture of an ancient ecosystem that is unique in the world. The unique fossils collected from Villaggio del Pescatore can be admired at the Natural History Museum in Trieste, and these fossils are stored under the approval of the Italian Ministry of Culture.
This study also reviewed and rewritten many evolutionary hypotheses to explain the background of the ancient Mediterranean. Initially, geologists interpreted the area of today’s Villaggio del Pescatore site as part of an island in the middle of the “former Mediterranean” ocean called Tethys. This supports a false interpretation that the first relatively small dinosaur skeleton (nicknamed “Antonio”) found at the site is actually a “dwarf” species, the so-called “island rule” (due to Scarcity of resources, the evolution of larger animals in island environments, the miniaturization).
In this new study, the research team recorded that “Antonio” is an immature individual, while “Bruno”, which is larger in size, represents an older individual – and may have been there before it died. growing up.
The new geological data collected by the team also provided the age of the site and its fossils: the Cretaceous period approximately 80 million years ago. This is 10 million years earlier than previously thought: even when dealing with dinosaurs it was quite a long time. At that time, northeastern Italy is now a land facing a vast ocean, but connected to Western Europe and Asia. This means that not only are small islands characteristic of the ancient Mediterranean, but many of the migration routes of large terrestrial animals like dinosaurs may also cross what researchers call Italy’s land bridges today.
This new study emphasizes not only the first special discovery, but also the key role of the Italian dinosaur fossil record in evaluating the important scientific hypotheses of these ancient animals. As the site has been protected by Italian institutions, new research and teaching activities may represent an opportunity to include the geological and paleontological heritage in the “must-see” list when visiting “Belpaese”.