New Dinosaur Remains Discovered in Famous Villány Wine Region
Fanni Kaszás 2018.09.19.
Although Villány is primarily known for its wines, the newest Mesozoic repository in Hungary can also be found here. Hundreds of small dinosaur bone fragments and teeth have been discovered during this year’s completion of excavations in the Villány Hills by paleontologist Attila Ősi and his research associates.
The Hungarian Dinosaur Expedition not only collects fossils and focuses on dinosaurs, but it also pays attention to the complete fauna and flora of Mesozoic vertebrate localities in Hungary. They discovered the 240-235 million-year-old world in 2012, and carried out the excavations with the support of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) for a five-year-long period and, from 2017, with Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE).
Since then, with the collection of thousands of middle and late Triassic remains, at least 30 different vertebrate species have been discovered, including fish, amphibians, turtles, lizards, crocodiles, dinosaurs, pterosaurs and birds. Besides the actual fieldwork and excavations, the members of the research group conducted the scientific study, documentation and publication of the fossils found in the area– as well as introduced their results to the local and international scientific community.
This year alone, around 800 bones and teeth were found, including at least 10 jaw and skull remnants. The lower jaw of a small herbivore dinosaur, Mochlodon vorosi, was potentially the greatest find of the year, as a whole jaw will help us to understand how the dinosaurs used their teeth 85 million years ago. Attila Ősi, leader of the research group, revealed that teeth are the sturdiest part of the skeleton, while other parts, such as the fragile bones of the rare animals, are more likely to have been destroyed by now.
Ősi on this year’s findings:
One of our most significant discoveries this year is a half-meter jaw — the remains of a crocodile-like Nothosauria sea reptile and predator. The fossil suggests that up to 4-5 meters of predators could be discoverable here at the coastline of the former southern European continent.
They have also discovered a special vertebra, which is different from the vertebrae of the other reptiles (Sauropterygia reptiles) previously found in the Villány Hills, so it may be the remains of an unknown species of sea reptile.
Besides the Villány Hills, the best-known and richest collection of Triassic remains have been found in the Bakony near Iharkút, where Large-scaled excavations have been organized in Iharkút since 2001. Other than vertebrate fossils, they have found plenty of evidence of ancient vegetation and invertebrate life. These are the remains of clams and snails, carbonized tree trunks, leaf imprints, fossilized seeds, pollen and amber grains with a large variety of enclosed arthropods. Their study is necessary to map and reconstruct the 85-million-year-old world in which, among others, the dinosaurs of Bakony lived.