A man doing construction work in his backyard in Portugal unearthed fossilized bones, which have now been identified as the skeleton of an 82-foot-long dinosaur — possibly the largest ever found in Europe, according to a press release.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science said in the release on Wednesday that the initial discovery was made back in 2017 in the Portuguese city of Pombal.
Paleontologists from Portugal and Spain who have been working at the site since then say the bones could be those of a sauropod dinosaur measuring 39 feet in height and 82 feet in length.
Sauropods were plant-eating, four-legged dinosaurs with long necks and tails that lived from the Upper Jurassic to the Lower Cretaceous period, about 160-100 million years ago.
The international team of researchers spent more than a week in early August collecting key portions of the hulking skeleton, including vertebra and ribs.
“It is not usual to find all the ribs of an animal like this, let alone in this position, maintaining their original anatomical position. This mode of preservation is relatively uncommon in the fossil record of dinosaurs, in particular sauropods, from the Portuguese Upper Jurassic”, Elisabete Malafaia, postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, said in the statement.
Malafaia told CBS News the ribs measured nearly 10 feet in length, making them “the largest ribs of a sauropod that are currently known in Europe and one of the largest that was described worldwide.”
The recovered skeleton fragments will be cleaned and stabilized in a lab, documented and studied before going on display in a museum, Malafaia told Newsweek.
Based on the preservation and positioning of the bones removed from the site, researchers suspect that there could be more fossils buried in the backyard in Pombal, and they plan to continue the excavation work next year.