(NEW YORK) — Fossil fragments found in Spain are pointing to a new species of dinosaur, researchers said.
Scientists have proposed a new species of spinosaurid after studying the specimen, which includes a right jaw bone, one tooth and five vertebrate, found in the Arcillas de Morella Formation in Castellon, Spain, in 2011, according to a study published in Scientific Reports on Thursday.
Spinosaurids are often characterized by their large bodies, which stand on two feet. The group of dinosaurs, which include the Spinosaurus and Baryonyx, are also typically carnivorous.
The fossils date to the late Barremian or Early Cretaceous period — between 127 million and 126 million years ago, the authors said. Based on the remains, the researchers believe the dinosaur was between 10 meters to 11 meters long, or about 32 feet to 36 feet.
After comparing the specimen to other spinosaurids, the researchers determined it as both a new species and a new genus of spinosaurid, naming it Protathlitis cinctorrensis, with Protathlitis meaning “champion” in Greek and “cinctorrensis” in honor of the town, Cinctorres, in which the fossils were uncovered, according to the study.
The name “Champion” was in reference to the UEFA Europa League title won by European soccer club Villarreal C.F. in 2021 and to celebrate the club’s 100th anniversary in 2023, lead researcher Jose Santos‑Cubedo told ABC News.
Protathlitis cinctorrensis also has an elongated snout fitted with numerous conical teeth and used their hands to capture prey, Santos‑Cubedo said.
The finding suggests the Iberian peninsula may have been a diverse area for medium to large-bodied spinosaurid dinosaurs, shedding further light on the origin and evolution of the type of dinosaur.
It is believed that spinosaurids may have originated in Europe and then migrated from Africa to Asia, according to the paper. Evidence of their existence in Spain is mostly based on fossilized tooth remains.
The researchers believe this new species may indicate that spinosaurids appeared during the Early Cretaceous period in Laurasia — a large area of land in the northern European hemisphere — with two sub-groups of species occupying western Europe, according to the paper.
The spinosaurids may have later migrated to Africa and Asia, where they diversified.
“In Europe, baryonychines were dominant, while in Africa, spinosaurines were the most abundant,” Santos‑Cubedo said.
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