An article published in the journal “PLOS ONE” offers an ontogeny and taxonomy of the remains of hadrosaurids discovered in the Basturs Poble site, Spain. A team of researchers led by Víctor Fondevilla of the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP) and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) examined 270 fossils that could all belong to the same species, Pararhabdodon isonensis, and lived about 70 million years ago. The presence of very different specimens offered a lot of information on the life cycle of this duck-billed dinosaur.
The fossils of the Basturs Poble site were discovered for the first time in 2001 and subsequent investigations revealed an abundance of fossils with a big problem: they’re disjointed remains, for 95% isolated bones and teeth belonging to dinosaurs. Of the approximately one thousand fossils found, many were attributed to hadrosaurids, the so-called duck-billed dinosaurs, some others were attributed to other species, not only dinosaurs, but some have not yet been given a positive attribution because they’re too limited.
The team led by Víctor Fondevilla conducted a complex examination of the bones of hadrosaurids found on the Basturs Poble site assessing the characteristics to attribute them to a species concluding that probably belong to specimens of Pararhabdodon isonensis, a herbivore that lived in the Maastrichtiano, the last of the ages of the Cretaceous period. This species is known since the 1990s but in the first description occurred in 1993 the first remains, found in Spain as well, were attributed to a primitive iguanodon similar to the rhabdodont and only later the discovery of other remains convinced the researchers to catalog them in a new species of the lambeosaurine (Lambeosaurinae) group.
The specimens found show different ages at the time of death estimated between 2 years for the youngest ones and 14-15 for the larger specimens, perhaps adults, with other juveniles or in any case not yet adults of various ages. The fossils available suggest that adults could reach 6 meters in length but a certain variability in size prevents the certainty that the largest specimens discovered on the Basturs Poble site were adults.
This is the most complete study of the hadrosaurid fossils discovered at the Basturs Poble site. The researchers offered some hypotheses concerning the morphological variability of various elements of the skeleton that could be linked to individual variability but also to sexual dimorphism. It’s really difficult to have certainties having many remains but all largely incomplete but the work of Víctor Fondevilla’s team offered a lot of new information on the age of the specimens available. The abundance of hadrosaurid fossils in Catalonia offers hope for more findings that can offer more data on these animals that lived in the final stages of the dinosaur era.