Tucked away in France is an excavation site that has gained a lot of interest in the past week. The excavation site in southwestern France has been a source of many fossilized remains for almost a decade now. This week, scientists uncovered a wonderful specimen that has jaws dropping around the world – a gigantic dinosaur bone.
The bone was preserved in thick clay and is dated at approximately 140 million years old. Right next to the femur bone, a pelvis bone was discovered and well-preserved in clay.
The femur bone is a whopping 2 meters long and is believed by the experts to have once belonged to a sauropod – a herbivorous dinosaur that you probably spotted somewhere in Jurassic Park. The condition of the bone is apparently very impressive, as paleontologists are amazed at how well it was preserved. A paleontologist by the name of Ronan Allain described that the insertions of the tendons and muscles were actually visible in the specimen and that scars were visible on the bone. This is surprising detail for such an old fossil. Large bones like these have a tendency to collapse, leaving fragments to resemble the bone.
The sauropods of the Jurassic era were one of the largest land animals to have walked the earth, so this find is an interesting one indeed. To give you an idea of the size of this animal, it would have weighed approximately 50 tons!
This isn’t the first sauropod thigh bone to have been unearthed at this particular site in France – another was discovered in 2010. The discovery made nine years ago was actually larger — at 2.2 meters long — and tipping the scale at 500 kg, the weight of an average horse! It is expected that the femur bone discovered this week will weigh about the same. The actual numbers will have to wait as the experts work on the removal which is expected to run over a week or more.
Angeac is home to many interests in the field of paleontology. Even as we speak, there are 7 scientists working deep in Charente’s vineyards, near Cognac. The site is the richest of all sites in the entire country. Since 2010, scientists have been pretty busy around the area, having uncovered over 7,500 fossils from a minimum of 40 various species. More than 66,000 bone fragments have also been discovered at this amazing site. In the collection of discoveries are dinosaur footprints and fossilized plants as well.
All of this activity in the area over the last few years has turned around the area’s fame – it was once famous for the Cognac brandy produced there. The site in question was formerly a marshland during the era of dinosaurs. This is what made the conditions perfect for excellent preservation and mineralization of the gigantic bones and organic material. The area has been rapidly transformed into one of Europe’s most important areas thanks to the many discoveries — all rare and wonderful.
Among the interesting finds are the bones of stegosauruses and even a herd of ostrich dinosaurs. The latter is an interesting species of dinosaur. It is believed to have been covered with feathers that were used as an adornment to attract a mate rather than for protection – sort of like the colorful patterned plumage of the peacock. These were hairless animals and fall in a group called ornithomimids.
Feathered ornithomimid fossils were also discovered in China, Germany, and North America. In fact, 75 million-year-old fossils were discovered in Canada in 2012, originating from a juvenile animal and two adults. These were the first feathered species of dinosaur to have been discovered in the entire Western hemisphere and were the first species to confirm that the dinosaurs were covered entirely by fathers. The ‘ostrich dinosaurs’ also had a memorable scene in the Jurassic Park film, where they were chased by a T-rex.
Back to the sauropod – the paleontologists of the National Museum of Natural History based in Paris are working on the reconstruction of a sauropod skeleton. They are hoping to complete the model using the many fossilized components recovered from the site in Angeac-Charente. Thus far, the skeleton is over halfway complete and is a composite of their findings.
The skeleton is expected to be a huge attraction and direct even more attention to the Angeac-Charente region of France.