Fossil remains of herd of 11 dinosaurs discovered in Italy

Exceptional find includes biggest and most complete dinosaur skeleton ever unearthed in the country

A treasure trove of fossils of a herd of 11 dinosaurs has been identified for the first time in Italy, including the biggest and most complete dinosaur skeleton ever found in the country.

Although isolated dinosaur remains have been discovered in Italy since the 1990s, palaeontologists have now identified an entire group at Villaggio del Pescatore, a former limestone quarry close to the north-eastern port city of Trieste.

The fossilised remains belong to the species Tethyshadros insularis, which lived 80 million years ago and reached up to five metres in length.

“Italy is not known for dinosaurs and, although we had a few lucky strikes in the past, now we have a whole herd at one dinosaur site,” said Federico Fanti, a professor at the University of Bologna and leader of a research team whose findings have been published in the Scientific Reports journal.

Villaggio del Pescatore first became known for dinosaurs in 1996 after the discovery of a dinosaur skeleton that palaeontologists named Antonio and initially believed was a “dwarf species”. But the latest discoveries dispute this, with Antonio now believed to have been a young dinosaur who was part of the same herd that died together. The largest of the fossilised remains among the group has been named Bruno.

“Bruno is the biggest and oldest of the group, and the most complete dinosaur skeleton ever found in Italy,” said Fanti. “We knew there were dinosaurs at the site after the discovery of Antonio, but up until now nobody actually checked to see how many. What we have now are multiple bones belonging to the same herd.”

Fossilised remains of fish, crocodiles, flying reptiles and even small shrimp have also been found at the site, which 80 million years ago formed part of the ancient Mediterranean area.

“This is super cool as we can figure out the kind of environment the dinosaurs lived and died in,” added Fanti. “During that period, the area was very close to the shoreline in a tropical, warm and humid environment capable of feeding herds of dinosaurs.”

Some of the fossils so far found at Villaggio del Pescatore, a protected area, are on display at the civic museum of natural history in Trieste, and experts hope eventually to open part of the site to the public.

In January, footprints believed to have belonged to a crocodile-like prehistoric reptile were found in the Italian Alps.

Contributor

Angela Giuffrida in Rome

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Gideon Mantell: forgotten man who discovered the dinosaurs
A new play recalls the battle in the scientific establishment that denied a cobbler’s son credit for a major discovery

Rob Walker

03, Feb, 2019 @9:00 AM

Article image
Remains of new flying reptile species spotted in UK museum drawer
Student finds mislabelled fragment of pterosaur, which flew over eastern England up to 66m years ago

Steven Morris

10, Nov, 2020 @3:52 PM

Article image
Answer to fossil record puzzle may lie with teenage T rexes, study finds
Absence of smaller dinosaurs may be result of adolescent megatheropods crowding them out

Linda Geddes

25, Feb, 2021 @7:00 PM

Article image
Oldest known case of dandruff found in 125m-year-old dinosaur
Scientists have discovered fossilised dandruff on the skin of a feathered microraptor

Ian Sample Science editor

25, May, 2018 @2:05 PM

Article image
Archaeopteryx 'flew in bursts like a pheasant', scientists say
The winged Late Jurassic creature would take to the air in frenetic, flapping bounds, fossil x-rays show

Ian Sample Science editor

13, Mar, 2018 @6:03 PM

Article image
Scientists discover Welsh ‘dragon’ dinosaur – the size of a chicken
Pendraig milnerae was related to T rex and likely to have been apex predator despite its size, say experts

Steven Morris

05, Oct, 2021 @11:01 PM

Article image
Teeth suggest ancestors of diplodocus may have eaten meat
Analysis shows ‘earliest members of two main veggie dinosaur lineages were not exclusively herbivorous’

Nicola Davis Science correspondent

16, Dec, 2022 @7:00 PM

Article image
Rise of the dinosaurs traced back to their adaptation to cold
Covering of feathers left them able to cope when other creatures died off in mass extinction event, scientists say

Ian Sample Science editor

01, Jul, 2022 @6:00 PM

Article image
Remains of oldest known relative of modern birds discovered in China
Archaeornithura meemannae is at least 130 million years old and was found with its feathers preserved, allowing comparison with modern-day birds

Ian Sample, science editor

05, May, 2015 @3:37 PM

Article image
Did dinosaurs get dandruff?
Palaeontologists studying the evolution of dinosaurs’ skin and feathers think they did

Hanneke Meijer

15, Jun, 2018 @1:05 PM