Fossils discovered in the east-central Spanish province of Cuenca have enabled experts to reconstruct the dermal armor of the titanosaurs, the last of the giant dinosaurs, for the first time.
Paleontologists Jose Luis Sanz and Daniel Vidal at the Autonomous University of Madrid and Francisco Ortega of the National Distance Education University completed the reconstruction and published their study this week in the online scientific journal PLoS ONE.
Titanosaurs, which were among the largest animals ever to walk the Earth, had extremely large bones embedded within their skin, Ortega told Efe.
These bones known as osteoderms, only between 30 and 40 of which have been discovered worldwide, a score of them at the Lo Hueco site in Cuenca, have given paleontologists fresh insight into these dinosaurs’ external appearance.
The purpose of this body armor remains unclear, however, since “these animals were immense and would not have needed it” for protection, Ortega said.