Missing fossil link to Jurassic Park dinosaurs found after more than 80 years in museum

Scientists have discovered a new giant dinosaur after re-examining a fossil that had been gathering dust in a museum for more than 80 years.

The plant-eating creature - an early relative of the Brachiosuarus depicted in the film Jurassic Park - was first found in 1934 in Jura, France.

Since then it had languished in storage in the French Natural History Museum in Paris - going unrecognised as a distinct species.

The dinosaur was longer than a double-decker bus and weighed 15,000kg - and provides clues about the evolution of some of the biggest creatures ever to walk the Earth.

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Researcher Dr Philip Mannion said the animal - named Vouivria damparisensis - would have lived 160 million years ago in the Late Jurassic period, when Europe was a series of islands.

He said it would have eaten all kinds of vegetation, such as ferns and conifers.

He added: "We don't know what this creature died from, but millions of years later it is providing important evidence to help us understand in more detail the evolution of brachiosaurid sauropods and a much bigger group of dinosaurs that they belonged to, called titanosauriforms."

Titanosauriforms survived across parts of Europe, the US and Africa until the asteroid strike that wiped out most of life on earth around 66 million years ago.

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The newly-discovered fossil was a sauropod, from the same sub-group as Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus and Brontosaurus.

It predates the oldest-known member of the group by around five million years.

The scientific name Vouivria damparisensis relates to 'La vouivre', a local folklore legend about a winged serpent.

Scientists from Imperial College London examined the bones of the creature along with scientists at the Natural History Museum in Paris and the CNRS/Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.

Their research is published in the journal Peer J.

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