Europasaurus (European lizard)
Europasaurus (European lizard)
Named By : Mateus, Laven, & Knötschke vide Sander et al - 2006
Diet : Herbivore
Size : Estimated 6.2 meters long
Type of Dinosaur : Sauropod
Type Species : E. holgeri (type)
Found in : Germany
When it Lived : Late Jurassic, 154-151 million years ago
Europasaurus, a basal macronarian dinosaur and a type of quadrupedal herbivorous dinosaurus, is one example. It lived in northern Germany’s Late Jurassic (middle Kimmeridgian) and was identified as an example for insular dwarfism, which is the result of the isolation of a sauropod community on an island within Lower Saxony.
Holger Ludtke, a private fossil collector, discovered a single sauropod teeth in 1998 in Langenberg Mountain’s active quarry. This quarry is located between the German communities of Oker and Harlingerode. Langenberg chalk quarry has been in operation for over a century. Rocks are quarried by blasting and most of them are used to make fertilisers. The quarry contains a nearly continuous succession of carbonate rocks from the Suntel Formation that measures 203m (666ft) thick. These rocks range in age from early Oxfordian to later Kimmeridgian and were deposited in shallow waters with less than 30m (98ft). The quarry’s layers are almost vertically oriented and slightly overturned due to the ascent of nearby Harz mountains in the Lower Cretaceous. The quarry is well-known as a classic exposure for geologists. It has been extensively studied and visited by geology students for many decades. While the quarry is rich in fossils from marine invertebrates it has been hard to find fossils from land-living animals. The first fossil of a sauropod dinosaur was found in northern Germany’s Jurassic.
After additional fossil material, including bones, was discovered, excavation began in April 1999 by a local association for private fossil collectors. Although the quarry operator was cooperative and excavation was made easier by the limited access to the layers as well as ongoing quarrying. The sauropod material couldn’t be extracted directly from the layer, but it had to be taken from lost blocks that resulted from blasting. Although the exact source of the bone material is unknown, it was later determined to be in a single bed (bed 83) A ca. 50 t (49 tons long; 55 tons short) of bone-bearing block containing vertebrate bones. The Dinosaur Park Munchehagen, a private open-air museum dedicated to dinosaurs located near Hanover, was used for the preparation and storage of fossils. Because of the excellent preservation of bones, consolidating agents were only used occasionally. Preparation was relatively quick as bone will easily separate from surrounding rocks. Simple bones could be prepared in as little as an hour. Preparing a sacrum took three weeks. Bones with a simple shape can sometimes be prepared in one hour. In January 2001, 200 single-vertebrate bones were already prepared. A block measuring 70×70 cm contained approximately. 20 bones. In January 2002, preparations of a larger block revealed a partial skull of a sauropod – the first European discovery. To document the exact three-dimensional location of each bone, a silicon cast of the block was made before complete bone removal.
Arson fire destroyed or damaged part of the Europasaurus fossil material in the night of October 4th through 5th 2003. The laboratory and exhibition hall at Dinosaur Park Munchehagen were destroyed by the fire. 106 bones were lost, accounting for 15% of all bones that were prepared at that time. The fire also caused significant damage to the blocks that were still unprepared. Firefighting water sprayed hot stones, causing further crumbling. DFMMh/FV100, which contained the most well-preserved vertebral series as well as the only complete pelvis, were among the destroyed specimens.
The new sauropod taxon, Europasaurus Holgeri, was officially described in 2006. The genus name “reptiles from Europe” is the given etymology. The specific name honors Holger Ludtke who was the original discoverer of fossils. The bones are small in size, so it was assumed that they were formed by juveniles. However, the 2006 publication revealed that most of the specimens were adults and that Europasaurus was an isolated dwarf. The number of individual sauropod bone specimens has increased to 650. They include differently articulated individuals. The material was found in an area of 60-80m (200-260 feet squared). The holotype, a disarticulated, but associated, was chosen from these specimens (DFMMh/FV291). The holotype contains multiple cranial bone (premaxilla maxilla, quadratojugal), multiple mandible bones, large amounts of teeth, cervical vertebrae (sacral vertebrae), and ribs from neck and torso. Based on material overlap, at least 10 additional individuals were referred the same taxon.
In 2012, a large-scale excavation campaign began with the aim of excavating Europasaurus bones from rock layers. The removal of approximately 600 tons of rock by wheel loaders and excavators was required to access the bone-bearing layers. Water had to be continuously pumped from the quarry base. Spring and summer 2013 saw more excavations. In spring and summer 2013, excavations continued. Around 1300 vertebrate bone fragments had been extracted from bed 83 by 2014. The majority of these bones were Europasaurus bones. An additional 3000 bones are still in preparation. Based on jaw bones, a minimum of 20 people were identified.
Europasaurus is a small sauropod that measures only 6.2m (20 feet) in adult size. The length of the Europasaurus was calculated using a partial femur. This is roughly equivalent to a Camarasaurus specimen. There are also younger individuals, ranging in size from 3.7m (12 ft.) to 1.75m (5.7 ft.). Magyarosaurus, a titanosaur, is similar in size, weighing 900 kg (2,200 lb), and Europasaurus, weighing approximately 800 kg (1 1,800 lb). Neuquensaurus is a smaller titanosaur and can be as long as 9m (30 feet) in length. It weighs 3,200 kg (7.100 lb).