A man doing construction work in his backyard in Portugal has unearthed fossilized bones, which have now been identified as the skeleton of an 80-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 its release on Wednesday that the first discovery was made in the Portuguese city of Pombal in 2017.
Paleontologists from Portugal and Spain who have been working at the site since then say the bones could be those of a sauropod dinosaur at 39 feet high and 82 feet long.
Sauropods were herbivorous, long-necked, four-legged dinosaurs that lived from the Upper Jurassic to the Lower Cretaceous, about 160-100 million years ago.
The international team of researchers spent more than a week in early August collecting key parts of the colossal skeleton, including vertebrae and ribs.
“It’s not common to find all the ribs of an animal like this, let alone in this position, preserving their original anatomical position. This way of conservation is relatively unusual in the fossil record of dinosaurs, especially sauropods, from the Portuguese Upper Jurassic,” Elisabete Malafaia, a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Science at the University of Lisbon, said in the statement.
Malafaia told CBS News that the ribs were nearly 10 feet (3 meters) long, making them “the largest sauropod ribs currently known in Europe and one of the largest described worldwide.”
The recovered skeletal fragments will be cleaned and stabilized in a lab, documented and studied before being displayed in a museum, Malafaia told Newsweek.
Based on the preservation and positioning of the bones removed from the site, researchers suspect more fossils may be buried in the backyard in Pombal, and they plan to continue excavation work next year.