Paleontologists seem to discover new fossils almost every other day across the lands of Earth, but sometimes it’s the fossils we dug up eons ago that have the most unheard stories to tell.
An old dinosaur fossil discovered in France back in 1934 and has been in storage at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris for decades, where it has gone over-looked all this time. With that in mind, some researchers decided that maybe it was time to give it another look, and when they were finished, they were glad they did.
Image Credit: Imperial College London
Published in the journal PeerJ, the researchers describe the dinosaur fossil as the remains of a previously-unknown species of dinosaur said to be closely-related to the long-necked Brachiosaurus, an herbivorous beast most Jurassic Park fans are familiar with.
The new dinosaur species is a member of the titanosauriform family and was given the name Vouivria damparisensis; it’s also being dated back to around 160 million years ago during the late Jurassic period.
“We don't know what this creature died from, but millions of years later it is providing important evidence to help us understand in more detail the evolution of brachiosaurid sauropods and a much bigger group of dinosaurs that they belonged to, called titanosauriforms,” study lead-author Dr Philip Mannion of Imperial College London explains.
The study goes on to explain that Vouivira lived before the Brachiosaurus did and that it was actually an early relative of the large dinosaur, pre-dating even the previous earliest-known sauropod ever discovered by as much as 5 million years. This discovery is helping scientists to decode the evolution of dinosaurs and continue the ongoing goal of developing a family tree.
"It starts to give us an idea that these animals were evolving much earlier than the fossil record previously has indicated," Dr Mannion continued, as he explained the discovery. "This pushes back a lot of origin times for a range of sauropod dinosaurs based on our understanding of how these different species related to one another."
While dinosaurs are long-gone today, evidence for their existence couldn’t be clearer as we continue to discovery bones and fossils that tell their story. On the other hand, there’s no telling just how many other kinds of dinosaur species might have gone unnoticed after being misidentified or lost in storage.
Only time will tell, but it should be interesting nonetheless to see what other information becomes of dinosaur fossils, both old and new.