The Aragosaurus was the first sauropod dinosaur described in Spain some 25 years ago in Galve (Teruel), but its age was never clear. And now it has been discovered that it is 15 million years younger than previously thought. This would make it the only dinosaur of the Hauterivian age (between 136 and 130 million years ago) to be found in Spain.
Aragosaurus is the oldest of its kind and could even be a common ancestor. Credit: Grupo Aragosaurus-IUCA
"This is the only dinosaur of this period found in Spain and is also the most intact in Europe. It can be categorised amongst the well known sauropods of the Jurassic-Cretaceous transition (135 million years ago), the most abundant species during the Barremian age (116 million years ago). As this group has been studied the least, the Aragosaurus fills the gap," explains to SINC José Ignacio Canudo, lead author of the study and researcher in the University of Zaragoza's Aragosaurus-IUCA Group, which stands for the Aragon Research Institute of Environmental Sciences.
Its new age means that Aragosaurus fills in the transitional period between the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, of which there is little record in the world. Canudo points out that "Aragosaurus would have therefore been a primitive ancestor of the titanosauraus sauropods that would later dominate Europe and Asia during the Late Cretaceous Period."
Published in Geological Magazine, thanks to this new dating the study shows that Aragosaurus, found by José Luis Sanz and his team in 1987, is the oldest of its kind and could even be a common ancestor. The researcher declares that "the group could have originated in Europe, or even in Iberia, but there is still a lot more to be found out."
The new finding also reveals that in the Early Cretaceous Period (135 million years ago), what we now know as the European Continent was made up of a series of large islands that could have been "the point of origin for many vertebrate groups including sauropod dinosaurs like the Basal Titanosauriform."
Fossil dating: An "almost" impossible mission
In order to situate the dinosaurs on their corresponding branch of the evolutionary tree, their remains require dating. In some cases though, this is lacking. Dating dinosaur remains can be problematic due the little information available on the age of the sediments where the fossils lie.
In relation to Aragosaurus ischiaticus "there are some lagoons that allude to its stratigraphic position," outlines Candudo, adding that dating "can often be complicated due to imprecision in continental scales." For this reason, the age of some dinosaur species can vary "even by tens of millions of years", assures the geologist.
The research group carried out their detailed geological field work to find the remains in the lower part of the Castellar Formation site in Teruel. As the lower part is "not as rich" in fossils compared to the upper part, the only Aragosaurus remains that could be dated were a pollen fossil assemblage.
In Canudo's opinion, specifying the age of dinosaurs is "fundamental" in determining the paleobiogeography and evolution of these beings. As the scientist concludes, "incorrect aging provides the wrong results when determining the correlation between continents."
Canudo, J. I.; Gasca, J. M.; Moreno-Azanza, M.; Aurell, M. "New information about the stratigraphic position and age of the sauropod Aragosaurus ischiaticus from the Early Cretaceous of the Iberian Peninsula" Geological Magazine 149(2): 252-263, March de 2012 DOI: 10.1017/S0016756811000732
SINC Team | EurekAlert!
Greenland ice flow likely to speed up: New data assert glaciers move over sediment, which gets more slippery as it gets wetter
17.08.2017 | Swansea University
Climate change: In their old age, trees still accumulate large quantities of carbon
17.08.2017 | Universität Hamburg
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences