Previously unknown dwarf dinosaur discovered in Romania | Science

Previously unknown dwarf dinosaur discovered in Romania | Science
Previously unknown dwarf dinosaur discovered in Romania | Science

Researchers have discovered a previously unknown dinosaur species in Romania. This is a specimen that lived at the end of the dinosaur era. Such a find is quite rare in Europe, unlike in North America and Asia.

The dinosaur has been given the name Transylvanosaurus platycephalus, a reference to its location: the Romanian region of Transylvania. The animal (bottom right of the illustration) lived about 70 million years ago in the Cretaceous Period. That was shortly before the mass extinction of dinosaurs, 66 million years ago, respectively.

Dinosaurs have often been found where the skull and bones were, but it has been over a decade since a new species was discovered at one of Europe’s most important sites.

The remains of the dinosaur were already found in 2007. An international research team, including Dutch researcher Dylan Bastiaans of Naturalis in Leiden and the University of Zurich, has now described Transylvanosaurus platycephalus as a new species.

European dinosaurs were smaller than American and Asian ones

The dinosaur was about 2 meters long and walked on two legs. The animal, like other dinosaurs in the area, did not grow large. That is why scientists classify them among the so-called dwarf dinosaurs.

The fact that the European dinosaurs did not grow large was because at the time the continent was a collection of islands surrounded by shallow tropical seas. Because food was limited on the islands, the animals remained much smaller than related species in North America and Asia. There dinosaurs could be more than 10 meters long.

Literally, Transylvanosaurus platycephalus means ‘flat-headed reptile from Transylvania’. The herbivore had a strange broad skull. According to the researchers, this made the dinosaur clearly different from other species in its environment, which is very remarkable.

Dino made a crossing that was considered impossible

Transylvanosaurus platycephalus, according to the researchers, was more closely related to a French species. That likely means that dinosaurs from the French Spanish island interacted with species on the Central European island, which is now home to Hungary, Austria and Romania. Until now, scientists considered that meeting to be completely impossible.

How Transylvanosaurus platycephalus ended up in Transylvania is still unclear. More bones of the species are needed for that. The piece of skull and the few other bones that have now been found are not enough for that.

The research was published Thursday in the scientific journal Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.


Beeld: Peter Nickolaus

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Wetenschap Dinosauriërs

The article is in Dutch

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