In March this year, Michal Moucka, a doctor from the town of Kutna Hora took his sons to a nearby quarry to look for fossils of small ancient sea animals. Unexpectedly, the father and sons returned home with a priceless find - the first dinosaur bone ever discovered on Czech territory. As palaeontology is Mr Moucka's hobby, he immediately contacted experts from Charles University in Prague, who confirmed that the 40-centimetre bone comes from a specimen from the family Iguanodontidae that lived around 95 million years ago. Such a find is unique in this country because at the time when dinosaurs inhabited the Earth, the territory of what is now the Czech Republic was covered by a sea. The animal whose fossil has now been unearthed probably lived on one of many small islands in that sea, and that may be why it never reached the giant proportions of some of its relatives living inland. Professor Oldrich Fejfar is a palaeontologist from Prague's Charles University. He is working on the team of experts who are examining the fossil.
"This is the first record of a dinosaur on the territory of the Czech Republic, which is, of course, a total exception, because whole generations before me awaited eagerly such a find and in the end, in March this year, we were successful. It is a herbivore dinosaur, not a huge animal. The size was about 2.5 metres high and perhaps five metres long. And the animal browsed along the shoreline on, perhaps, coniferous plants. We know the name of that plant. It was Frenelopsis - a special kind of very fine-branched tree and this tree was attractive for that animal."
What particular bone was it that was found?
"We found the femur, it means a part of the hind extremity, and the size, the shape and morphology of this bone is good for us because we can estimate the size, we can estimate also the taxonomic position, and we can say that no doubt this was a herbivore dinosaur in the vicinity of the family Iguanodontidae."
The bone was found at a location which most likely was not the place where the animal had died, is that right?
"Yes, the animal died and was drifted, or rafted, perhaps several kilometres into the sea and then it was sedimented on the bottom of the sea. During this voyage, during this trip, it was gnawed by sharks. There are three kinds of gnawings on the surface and we can estimate that three different animals visited the dinosaur and tried to eat it."
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