April 18, 2024


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A man walking his dog found a rare intact dinosaur skeleton

Two years ago, Damian Bochetto decided to take his dog for a walk. He and Muffin, a border collie mix, headed to a forest in Montolier, a few miles from his home in Crozy, in southern France.

While Maven was sniffing and exploring the trail, Bochetto was observing fossils — a favorite pastime of his after studying paleontology in college. He soon spotted something sticking out of an eroded cliff. It was greatness. And a big one.

It turns out to be the pelvic bone's TitanosaurIt is a classification of long-necked dinosaurs that were among the largest creatures to ever set foot on this planet. There were more than 30 species of titanosaurs, the largest of which weighed up to 70 tons and was 85 feet long.

Bochetto's discovery was initially kept secret to protect the archaeological site, but the amateur paleontologist will finally talk about what he and Maven discovered in 2022.

“This is not my first attempt,” Bochetto, 25, said in an email to The Washington Post. “I have already discovered many dinosaur bones, but new ones are always sure to be discovered.”

Titanosaur fossils are not common in Europe, so this discovery was special, especially because Bochetto found more than one bone. What he eventually discovered was a titanosaur skeleton that was 70% complete, with most of the bones still attached.

“This is a rare and exceptional discovery in France and Europe,” said Bochetto, who worked with a local archaeological team to uncover the rest of the fossil. He added: “The day we saw that it was an almost completely connected dinosaur, the excitement was at its highest levels.”

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Over the next two years, Bochetto and members Archaeological and Paleontological Cultural Association (ACAP) In the Crozi Museum She secretly worked on the drilling. They always were Accompanied by Muffin who gave her efforts to the project.

“My dog ​​did not particularly help us with excavation, but he often guarded the ground and the excavations,” Bochetto said.

The skeleton was buried in a sedimentary layer of hard sandstone, requiring a slow and deliberate process to extract it. According to Bochetto, it is missing a skull and femur, and the team hopes to locate them in future excavations.

Many species and subspecies of titanosaur, a plant-eating dinosaur, lived during the Ice Age Cretaceous periodWhich lasted from 145 million to 66 million years ago. They had large bodies and very long necks that enabled them to reach the leaves of tall trees.

For a titanosaur, this skeleton was on the smaller side. Bochetto estimates that the piece he discovered is about 30 feet long. The level of sediment in which they were found indicates that they lived about 70 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period. He said that the team continues to study the fossil in the hope of determining its age and what type of titanosaur it was.

Once the work is completed, the skeleton will be on display at the Museo Crozi, the small local museum where Bochetto has volunteered for the past few years. Director Francis Vajes wrote in an email that his young student had made a huge impact in a short time with several fossil discoveries.

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“Since Damien Bochetto has joined the Museum and ACAP, he has contributed a lot to the paleontology of our collections, which is important for the future,” he said in a translated statement. “These discoveries are interesting from a scientific point of view because they contribute to the understanding of species and ecosystems in Late Cretaceous France and Europe.”

In September, Bochetto left his job in the energy sector. Since paleontology was his passion, he applied to a college in Paris that had a campus in Crozey in order to turn his hobby into his profession.

“I would like to join Applied School of Postgraduate Studies “I want to get a master’s degree in paleontology to promote my work,” he wrote. “This discovery has strengthened my involvement in scientific research and in resuming my studies in paleontology.”

No matter what the future holds, Bochetto will continue to take his 8-year-old furry friend on future fossil exploration trips.

“I continue to research our Crozi sites and study these animals – with Muffin of course!” He said. “He accompanies me everywhere.”