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Fund in Romania: Researchers discover new dinosaur species

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It was about two meters long, walked on two legs and loved to eat plants: the Transylvanosaurus platycephalus. A group of scientists discovered the new dinosaur species in western Romania.

An international team of researchers has identified a new species of dinosaur in western Romania. The species “Transylvanosaurus platycephalus”, named after the place where it was found in Transylvania, lived about 70 million years ago and was a herbivore, according to the University of Tübingen in a press release reported.

Cretaceous dwarf dinosaurs

Transylvanosaurus platycephalus means “broad-headed reptile from Transylvania”. The previously unknown dwarf dinosaur was about two meters long, walked on two legs and belonged to the group of so-called rhabdodontids.

In Transylvania, these animals, like other dinosaurs there, only reached a small body size. Presumably, a limited supply of food in Europe at that time led to an adapted stature, as the researchers suspect.

Transylvanosaurus (front right) was about two meters long.

Image: Peter Nickolaus

Europe: a tropical archipelago during the Cretaceous period

Europa was a tropical archipelago during the Cretaceous Period, which began 145 million years ago and ended 66 million years ago. Transylvanosaurus platycephalus lived on one of the many islands together with other miniature dinosaurs, crocodiles, turtles and giant pterosaurs, whose wings measured up to ten meters span.

“With every newly discovered species, the widespread assumption that the fauna of the Cretaceous period in Europe was species-poor continues to dissipate,” says the Tübingen paleontologist Felix Augustin, who was involved in the study. In addition to him, scientists from the universities of Bucharest and Zurich were also involved.

For the Cretaceous period, the Hateg Basin in Transylvania is one of the most important sites in Europe. A total of ten dinosaur species have already been identified there.