The Dinópolis Paleontology Foundation in Teruel today presented to the press the fossil skull of a Turiasaurus riodevensis, the 'European giant', an important find that will help complete the skeleton of this dinosaur that lived 145 million years ago and whose bones were first found in 2003.
The remains, more than 24 cranial bones and seven teeth, were put on display in the Paleontology Laboratory of the Dinópolis Foundation. They were found in 2005 at the Barrihonda-El Humero site near the town of Riodeva.
According to researchers, the skulls of these dinosaurs "are rarely preserved" because they are extremely fragile - four out of five sauropods found have no cranium at all. This time, however, the scientists have been able to recover information relating to 70% of the skull after several years of preparation and research.
Turiasaurus riodevensis - about 30 or 35 metres in length - thus becomes the most complete sauropod found on the Iberian Peninsula", according to paleontologists who have published these new findings in the Journal of Systematic Paleontology.
The fossil remains on show today confirm that it was a herbivorous dinosaur with a skull measuring about 78cm in diameter.
It would have weighed 40 tonnes and had 60 teeth in its mouth. The humerus found in 2003 measured 179 centimetres, and is another contribution to the skeleton of this animal, which is now about 55% complete.
Researcher Rafael Royo explained that the team of paleontologists took two years to prepare the material "thoroughly" bone by bone, comparing each one with other known and identified fossils.
Royo also confirmed that in addition to the skull fossil, remains were found of the neck, the vertebrae, front and rear legs, hips and shoulder blade, and added that the finding of the head confirms this species, Turiasaurus riodevensis.
Researchers first mentioned this species in 2006, when they published their initial findings in Science magazine.
The reconstructed skull can be seen in Titania - Dinópolis' newest visitor centre in Riodeva (Teruel), which is scheduled to open in the summer.