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Posted on Saturday, February 03 - 2007

" Copyright © MSNBCA Stegosaurus fossil has been discovered in Europe, marking the first time the famous plated dinosaur has been found outside of North America.The find supports a widely accepted idea that the two continents were once connected by a series of temporary land bridges which..."

Stegosaurus grew to about 20 feet long. Its back was adorned with odd-looking vertical plates and its tail was studded with spikes. Once thought to be weapons or to attract mates, the unusual ornaments are now thought to be extreme forms of displays used to recognize each other.

Copyright © MSNBC

A Stegosaurus fossil has been discovered in Europe, marking the first time the famous plated dinosaur has been found outside of North America.The find supports a widely accepted idea that the two continents were once connected by a series of temporary land bridges which surfaced when sea levels dipped, allowing dinosaurs to cross. “Both coasts were very close and the basins between them could emergeoccasionally,” said study leader Fernando Escaso of the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain.During the first half of dinosaurs’ 185-million-year reign on Earth, all of the world’s continents were clumped together into one giant landmass called Pangaea.

At the end of the Jurassic Period, about 150 million years ago, the supercontinent began slowly splintering: North America, Europe and Africa began to drift apart, and in the widening rift between them, the Atlantic Ocean was born. At times during this million-years long transformation, sea levels rose and fell, and land bridges occasionally emerged between the newly sundered landmasses. During times of connectedness, dinosaurs like Stegosaurus would have been able to cross.

Stegosaurus Well-known to any dinosaur enthusiast, Stegosaurus was a bizarre-looking herbivorous creature that had a back adorned by a double row of vertical plates and a tail studded with spikes. It was once thought these strange accessories were for protection or used to radiate heat from the dinosaur’s body. But now most scientists think the body armor was probably just extreme example of the elaborate and colorful displays animals use to recognize each other as the same species. The scientists unearthed the new Stegosaurus fossils—which included a tooth and parts of the animal’s spinal column and leg bones—near the city of Batalha, in central Portugal. Preliminary analyses show the fossils to be indistinguishable from a species previously found only in North America, called Stegosaurus ungulatus. While the similarity bolsters theland......


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