About 126 million years ago, when the planet was dominated by dinosaurs, a two ton giant and more than 10 meters long he walked along the beaches that we now know as Castellón. It was translated from a huge carnivore with robust hind legs, small but powerful claws and a snout similar to that of current crocodiles that roamed the coastal areas in search of their prey. Its history, buried for thousands of years, has been rescued thanks to the study of some fossil remains and it is presented in all its glory in an article published this Thursday in the magazine ‘Scientific Reports’.
The protagonist of this story has been baptized as ‘Protathlitis cinctorrensis‘which literally means’Cinctorres Champion«. According to the researchers who have led its discovery, this dinosaur inaugurates a new species and genus within the spinosaurids. «Champion owes its name to the Unforgettable day when Villarreal CF (Castellón team in the first division) won the UEFA Europa League in 2021«, says Andrés Santos-Cubedo, a scientist at the Universitat Jaume I and one of those responsible for the study of this specimen. As for the surname, it is a reference to the town where the remains of this dinosaur were discovered.
«Champion owes its name to the unforgettable day Villarreal CF won the UEFA Europa League in 2021»
Andrés Santos-Cubedo, paleontologist
The remains of the ‘Cinctorres champion’ were discovered in the deposit of Clays of Morella, one of the most prosperous places in the entire Iberian Peninsula for the search and study of dinosaurs since, according to the experts, in its terrain more than four kilometers thick a true time machine can be found. Only in that area have they recovered almost a thousand fossils of different species of animals and plants that populated the planet in a very distant time. The remains of ornithopods (herbivorous dinosaurs), sauropods (the long-necked giants) and theropods (carnivores) have also been discovered.
It was in this environment that paleontologists found a almost complete right maxillaa tooth and five tail vertebrae of a dinosaur which, at least a priori, did not fit into any of the known categories. This is how researchers from the Universitat Jaume I, the Universitat de Valènica and the Grup Guix from Vila-Real focused on the analysis of these fossils and ended up discovering that the ‘champion of Cinctorres’ was, indeed, a new species of dinosaur.
The history of this dinosaur has been reconstructed thanks to a maxilla, a tooth and five vertebrae
As explained by the experts who have led this analysis, one of the most outstanding features of this Castellón dinosaur were in its sharp teeth. The study of the maxilla revealed, for example, that ‘champion’ had no more and no less than 22 teeth (almost double that of the already famous ‘Spinosaurus’ and ‘Irritator’). «This dinosaur presents dental crowns with denticulate edges that, in addition, curve posteriorly towards the apex», explain the authors of the study of this specimen.
The story of the ‘Cinctorres champion’ is not only surprising because of the discovery of the dinosaur itself but, according to the experts, it also suggests that the Iberian Peninsula could have been a true paradise for spinosaurids like this. In fact, several fossilized teeth of these animals have been found in Spain which, according to experts, suggest that this area hosted a large species diversity of these dinosaurs ago centenarians of millions of years. In fact, everything indicates that this family of dinosaurs originated on the European continent and later migrated to Asia and Africa.
The ‘parents’ of the ‘Cinctorres Champion’ proudly explain that it is the Fourth species of dinosaur discovered in Castellón in the last decade. In 2015 the discovery of ‘Morelladon beltrani’ was announced, in 2019 of ‘Vallibonavenatrix cani’ and in 2021 of the gigantic ‘Portellsaurus sosbaynati’. But that is not all. In recent years, the Iberian paleontology It is being a field of great joys. Last year, for example, a team of Catalan researchers discovered the remains of ‘Abditosaurus kuehnei’: an herbivore 18 meters long14 tons in weight and which, today, still stands out as the largest discovered in all of southern Europe.