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Australopithecus africanus skull known as Mrs. Ples (José Braga / Didier Descouens: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australopithecus_africanus#/media/File:Mrs_Ples.jpg))

Science publishes today a technical comment led by Sergio Almécija, paleontologist at the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP). In this article, the authors refute the arguments previously published by a team at the University of Kent in the same journal, who attributed to the species Australopithecus africanus the ability to manufacture and manipulate stone objects in the same way that modern humans do, 3 million years ago.

Extant shrew (USGS Bee Inventory//CC2.0)

ICP researcher Marc Furió publishes in the journal Comptes Rendus Palevol an article analyzing the remains ofDinosorex found in the Vallès-Penedès basin. This genus belonging to the order Insectivora is popularly known as the "Terror-shrew" because of its body size and huge incisors. The study reveals that Dinosorex lived in this area for more than 3 million years without showing significant morphological changes. Its extinction is related to a climate change that took place 9.6 million years ago.

 

The Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus) is the largest amphibian in the world (Photo: Egon Heiss)

The Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus) is the largest amphibian in the world (Photo: Egon Heiss)

An international team has developed three-dimensional models of the bite of the world's largest living amphibian, the Chinese giant salamander. The study, led by Josep Fortuny, researcher at the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP) and published in the journal PLOS ONE, explains the feeding mechanisms of this enigmatic endangered animal of which biology is poorly understood. Research reveals that this salamander feeds especially on preys located right in front of it but can also perform quick strikes on laterally approaching animals. Understanding how this species hunts not only broadens the knowledge of its biology but can also help in reconstructing how early tetrapods and extinct amphibians fed.  

Researchers at the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP) and the Laboratory for the Technological Innovation of Structures and Materials (LITEM) of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) have modelled thebiomechanics of the bite of the Chinese giant salamander from 3D CT-scan images of skulls of this species and applying a finite element analysis, a method for simulating complex physical and biological problems computationally. In this case, this method is particularly useful for investigating the distribution of forces within the skull of extinct animals or living animals using non-invasive techniques.

Vídeo: 3D bite modeling and feeding mechanics of the Chinese giant salamander

The giant salamander feeds on crustaceans and worms, but also on fish, amphibians and other small mammals performing a sit-and-wait strategy and biting when they are close enough. This salamander typically captures their prey by suction feeding, a common system in amphibians, but also capturing prey directly by the jaws. The position where prey contacts the snout is crucial and biting is especially optimal when the prey is directly in front of the animal. However, the study reveals that this salamander can also perform an asymmetric strike, that is biting only with one side of the mouth. This is a unique feature among vertebrates and allows them to capture laterally approaching prey. Once trapped, the salamander pulls the prey to the back of the jaw where a stronger bite is performed to prevent prey from escaping.

The coordinator of the Virtual Paleontology research group of the ICP, Josep Fortuny, heads the study. "The position where the prey comes into contact with the skull and jaw of the salamander shows us that there are some areas that are better than others when biting, being optimal when they bite with the anterior part on the snout. Possibly, when the prey is situated in a less optimal position the animal has to bite twice: one to catch the prey and again to put in a frontal position", explains Fortuny. This is possibly related to the architecture of the skull of these animals, they lack of a bony bridge between the posterior end of the maxilla and the anterior quadrato-squamosal region, typical of most salamanders.

Paleontologists are interested in the bite of this living animal because the Chinese giant salamander belongs to the oldest known group of amphibians, the Cryptobranchids, which appear 161 million years ago, during the Jurassic period. This is what is often miscalled a "living fossil", an animal that has changed relatively little from their ancestors throughout evolution. In fact, the first amphibians were aquatic predators, with a long flat skull, similar to this species, so the characterization of its bite can help to understand how their ancestors fed.

Distribution of forces in the jaw in a unilateral bite (Photo: ICP/LITEM)

Distribution of forces in the jaw in a unilateral bite (Photo: ICP/LITEM)

LITEM has performed the most technical part of the study, transforming tomographic images in a CAD model and developing a finite element model that shows how muscle forces are distributed. “We have applied methods from the field of mechanical engineering usually used to study and calculate the behaviour of structures such as buildings, chassis cars, planes, etc. and applied to vertebrates, which basically differ by having a more complex geometry and are made of bone, instead of steel or concrete. So we recreate the mechanical behaviour of salamander skull when biting and infer biological issues from it”, says Jordi Marcé-Nogué, the UPC researcher who participated in the study.

The research was published today in PLOS ONE.

Researcher Egon Heiss with a live specimen (Foto: Egon Heiss)

Researcher Egon Heiss with a live specimen (Photo: Egon Heiss)

An endangered giant

The Chinese giant salamander is the largest living species of amphibian, reaching a maximum length of 1.8 metres. It lives in cool, fast-flowing streams and mountain lakes. Their large size, lack of gills and inefficient lungs confine this species to flowing water as the main oxygen uptake is through the skin. Individuals are dark brown, black or greenish in colour with irregularly spotted patterning. It is generally nocturnal, is generally nocturnal, although they become more diurnal during the breeding season.

The species is included in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and in critical danger of extinction due to indiscriminate hunting for human consumption and degradation of their natural habitat.

+ info: Fortuny  J, Marcé-Nogué J, Heiss E, Sanchez M, Gil L, Galobart À (2015) 3D Bite Modeling and Feeding Mechanics of the Largest Living Amphibian, the Chinese Giant Salamander Andrias davidianus (Amphibia:Urodela). PLoS ONE 10(4): e0121885. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0121885

 
3D reconstruction of the skull and brain of Arenysaurus ardevoli

3D reconstruction of the skull and brain of Arenysaurus ardevoli

Researchers at the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP) have collaborated in the first three-dimensional reconstruction of the brain of Arenysaurus ardevoli, a European hadrosaur dinosaur species. Cranial material was CT-scanned and intracranial cavity, nerves and even the inner ear were 3D-modelled. Further analysis of the images supports the original classification of this specimen and may reflect some degree of dwarfism as a result of the conditions in the archipelago where this species evolved.

The analyzed skull of Arenysaurus ardevoli is remarkably well preserved and without significant deformations, so an almost complete three-dimensional endocast could be reconstructed using a CT-scan. Segmentation of images was performed at the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont. "The process involves assembling radiographic images and, virtually, separate the different materials found in the sample such as bone, matrix, air, etc. to generate a 3D model that shows the shape, size and volume of the inner cavities of the skull by means of a non-destructive system", explains Josep Fortuny, coordinator of the Research Group on Virtual Paleontology at the ICP.

Reconstruction of Arenysaurus ardevoli at Arén, Huesca (Diego Castanera)

Reconstruction of Arenysaurus ardevoli at Arén, Huesca (Diego Castanera)

Further analysis of the images has enabled researchers to validate the correct classifications of this species as a member of the lambeosaurine subfamily within the family of hadrosaurs (also known as "duck-billed" dinosaurs), which have the largest brains (in proportion to its body) within ornitischians, a large group of dinosaurs that includes well-known species such as triceratops or stegosaurus. In addition to its big brain size, hadrosaurs also show highly developed olfactory bulbs (a brain structure related to the sense of smell).

Video: 3D model of the paleoneuroanatomical reconstruction

3D images also revealed some unique characters that might show an incipient process of dwarfism in this species due to insularity since, during the Late Cretaceous, what is nowadays known as Europe used to be an archipelago. Under insular conditions, where food resources are often limited and there is low predation pressure, species tend to be smaller than their mainland counterparts in order to maximize energy efficiency.

Cranial remains of Arenysaurus ardevoli were found in Aren (Huesca) in the 90s by a research team from the University of Zaragoza. This species coexisted with other dinosaurs found in the Pyrenees such as Pararhabdodon isonensis, found just a few miles away in several sites of Isona. These areas of Aragon and Catalonia belong to the same geological unit, the Tremp basin, which for years has been providing exceptional fossil record remains of dinosaurs that lived about 70 million years ago.

Reconstrucció de Pararhabdodon isonensis (Oscar Sanisidro)

Reconstrucció de Pararhabdodon isonensis (Oscar Sanisidro)

The neuroanatomy of American and Asian hadrosaurids is well known, but only a few cranial remains have been recovered in Europe that include the braincase. This scientific article, published in the latest issue of the PeerJ, is the result of the collaboration of researchers from the ICP, the University of Rio Negro-CONICET in Argentina and the University of Zaragoza.

+ info: Cruzado-Caballero P, Fortuny J, Llacer S, Canudo J. (2015) Paleoneuroanatomy of the European lambeosaurine dinosaur Arenysaurus ardevoli. PeerJ 3:e802 DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.802

 

 

Workshops combine both theory and practice sessions (Transmitting Science)

Workshops combine both theory and practice sessions (Transmitting Science)

The Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP) and Transmitting Science have collaborated for years to provide a high-quality educational program addressed to active paleontologists and students, as well as researchers and specialists from related disciplines. Several topics are covered that range from scientific illustration courses to advanced courses in statistics.

These condensed courses combine theory with practice so that students can immediately apply their skills. Students can validate ECTS (European Credit System Transder) in several European and Latin American doctorate schools such as the Life Science Zurich School (Switzerland), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sweden), University of Konstanz (Germany), Umeå University (Sweden), University of La Plata (Argentina) and University of La República (Uruguay), among others.

Courses are directed by Soledad De Esteban-Trivingo, postdoctoral researcher at the Virtual Paleontology Research Group of the ICP and director of Transmitting Science. "We are very pleased with the development of the program. In the last two years we have had participants from 44 countries and five continents showing a high level of satisfaction", commented. Courses are aimed not only for predoctoral students but for researchers and teachers as well (35% of the participants have a PhD).

Broad range of courses is offered (Transmitting Science)

Broad range of courses is offered (Transmitting Science)

Teaching staff is composed of specialists in each of the subjects, with 50% of foreign teachers. Among the teachers of2014-2015 courses it is worth stressing Chris Klingenberg, professor of the University of Manchester and Emmanuel Paradis, specialist in phylogenies and evolution at the University of Montpellier.

From April to August, available courses are:

  • Integration and Modularity with Geometric Morphometrics - 4th ed., by Chris Klingenberg (University of Manchester). From 7 to 10 April. + information
  • Introduction to Network Tools in Biosciences – 2nd ed., by Diego Borja Rasskin-Gutman and Esteve-Altava (Cavanilles Institute of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, University of Valencia). . + information
  • An Introduction to Phylogenetic Analysis Using R - 2nd ed., by Emmanuel Paradis (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement) and Klaus Schliep (University of Massachusetts). From 4 to 8 May. + information
  • 3D Geometric Morphometrics – 5th ed., by Melissa Tallman (Grand Valley State University). From 4 to 8 May. + information
  • Introducction to Naturallistic and Scientific Illustration - 2nd ed., by Oscar Sanisidro (Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales). From 18 to 22 May. + information
  • Studying Ontogeny at Different levels Using Geometric Morphometrics – 3rd ed. a càrrec Kieran McNulty (University of Minnesota). Del 25 to 27 May + information
  • Historical Biogeography: Fundamentals and Applications, by Claudia Szumik (Miguel Lillo Foundation, CONICET) and Lone Aagensen (IBODA, CONICET). From 15 to 19 June. + information
  • Introduction to Individual Based Models in Ecology using Netlogo - 2nd ed., by Jürgen Groeneveld and Alexander Singer (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ). From 15 to 19 June. + information
  • Entomología experimental: Medición y Anàlisis de Variables Fisiológicas y Comportamentales. From June 23 to July 3. + information.
  • Quantitative Cladistics and Use of TNT - 2nd ed., by Pablo Goloboff and Claudia Szumik (CONICET). From June 29 to July 3. + information
  • Microscopía y Arte: Un Proceso Creativo a través del Microscopio. From  6 to 10 July. + información.
  • Spatial Conservation Planning With Marxan, by Ayesha Tulloch and Vivitskaia Tulloch (University of Queensland).From 13 to 17 July. + information
  • Introducción a las Técnicas de Microscopía: Óptica y Electrónica – 3rd ed., by Mònica Roldán-Molina and Emma Rossinyol-Casals (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona). From 27 to 31 July. + information.

 

Courses are offered in English or Spanish according to its title.

For more information:

 

- Transmitting Science website.

Reconstruction of Struthiosaurus (Oscar Sanisidro / ICP)

Reconstruction of Struthiosaurus (Oscar Sanisidro / ICP)

The study of the microstructure of the eggshell of Cairanoolithus conducted by Albert G. Sellés and Angel Galobart, both researchers at the Catalan Institute of Palaeontology Miquel Crusafont (ICP), reveals that this egg type does not belong to sauropod dinosaurs but to ankylosaurs, and probably to Struthiosaurus, a genus of armored dinosaurs. The finding would represent the first description of thyreophora eggs (a group that includes ankylosauria and stegosauria) in the world.

It is an arduous task for paleontologists to assign the fossil eggs they found in excavations to a certain dinosaur species or group of dinosaurs, especially because the lack of bones of the parents in the nests and the low probability to find embryonic remains that would help in the taxonomic assignation of the eggs. Thus, we often do not known who laid a certain fossil egg. These limitations have led scientist to design a specific system for naming and classifying fossil eggs, using concepts such as "oogenera" and "ooespecies" for its phylogenetic classification.

Cairanoolithus is an oogenus discovered and described in the early 90’s. It takes its name from the first place where it was found, a site near La Cairanne, a small town from southeastern France. From then on, Cairanoolithus has been found in 25 different sites. These eggs are between 72.2 and 71.4 million years old, they are large (over 15 cm in diameter) and have a rounded shape. These two last characteristics are typical for sauropod eggs, large herbivorous dinosaurs with long necks and tails. Because that, Cairnanoolithus has been historically ascribed to this group of dinosaurs.

Cairanoolithus egg (ICP)

Cairanoolithus egg (ICP)

In a study published in the journal Historical Biology, paleontologists from the ICP refuse this assignment after the analysis of the microstructure of the shell of Cairanoolithus.  “Through the microscope we observe nearly smooth egg-surface and a pore system usually seen in ornithischian eggs, not in sauropod ones", says Albert G. Sellés, author of the study. Ornithischia is a very diverse group of dinosaurs that includes well-known forms such as Triceratops andIguanodon. In Europe, the most abundant group of ornithischians is Hadrosauria (or duckbill dinosaurs). "The most puzzling question, however, is that in the period in which Cairanoolithus occurs, there were no hadrosaurs in Europe!" said Sellés. So, who laid those eggs?

 

Images of the surface (A,D,G and J), section (B,E,H and K) and the pore system (C,F,I and L) of different types of dinosaur eggs. First line (A,B and C) is Cairanoolithus. (ICP)

Images of the surface (A,D,G and J), section (B,E,H and K) and the pore system (C,F,I and L) of different types of dinosaur eggs. First line (A,B and C) is Cairanoolithus. (ICP)

The structure of the shell and phylogenetic analyzes have led the researchers to propose a new hypothesis to solve this riddle. Beside hadrosaurs, European ornithischians are also represented by rhabdodontids and nodosaurids, which were present in the same time that Cairanoolithus, but their eggs remain unknown. Researchers conducted an anatomical study comparing the size of the eggs with the size of the pelvic opening of rhabdodontids and nodosaurids and concluded that the only genus with a pelvic channel wide enough to deliver this egg was Struthiosaurus.

If this hypothesis is correct, Cairanoolithus would be the first and only thyreophora egg, the group of dinosaurs that includes ankylosaurids and stegosaurids, known so far.

A dinosaur with spikes

Struthiosaurus (meaning "ostrich-lizard") was an herbivorous dinosaur that lived throughout Europe (its remains have been found in Austria, France, Romania and Spain) between 83 and 69 million years ago. It was about three meters long, weighed between 300 and 400 kilos and had an armor of bony plates that protected much of the body. It also had large spikes on the shoulders, tail and neck. The genus was described in 1871 and, despite its name, is not related to modern birds.

Reconstrucció d’ Struthiosaurus ponent ous Cairanoolithus (A. Amblàs / ICP)

Reconstrucció d’ Struthiosaurus ponent ous Cairanoolithus (A. Amblàs / ICP)

In recent years southwestern Europe have outstanding by yielding a rich and diverse records of dinosaur eggs, including those of sauropods, theropods and ornithopods. This exceptional fossil record still holds many mysteries to solve.

+ info: Sellès, A. G. and A. Galobart (2015). Reassessing the endemic European Upper Cretaceous dinosaur egg Cairanoolithus. Historical Biology: 1-14. DOI: 10.1080/08912963.2014.998666

The researcher Miriam Perez de los Rios achieved an excellent “cum laude” for her doctoral dissertation describing the cranial and dental remains of the Miocene hominoid species from Vallès-Penedès basin with the aim to investigate their phylogenetic position. The work was directed by Salvador Moyà-Solà, director of the Catalan Institute of Palaeontology Miquel Crusafont (ICP) and David M. Alba, head of the research group of Neogene and Quaternary Faunas of the same centre. 

Entitled "The craniodental anatomy of Miocene apes from the Vallès-Penedès Basin: Implications for the origin of extant great apes " the dissertation of the nowadays PhD Miriam Pérez de los Ríos includes a description of somepreviously unpublished mandibular remains, as well as an exhaustive description of all the available cranial remainsof Miocene hominoids available from this area. Non-invasive techniques such as computed tomography were used for their study in order to observe the internal craniodental morphology.

The studied remains were compared with other extant and extinct hominoids to evaluate previously proposed phylogenetic hypotheses and taxonomic schemes of this group that includes five species and four different genera of the subfamily Dryopithecinae: the Middle Miocene Pierolapithecus catalaunicus, Anoiapithecus brevirostris andDryopithecus fontani, included in tribe Dryopithecini, as well as Hispanopithecus laietanus and H. crusafonti, included in tribe Hispanopithecini.

A mosaic of primitive hominoid features and more derived crown-hominoid features characterize these taxa, indicating that they should interpreted as basal members of the great ape and human clade (ie as, stem hominids).

Els pròxims 25 i 26 d'abril, la ciència envairà la plaça de les Glòries amb motiu del NOVUM 2015, el Festival de Ciència, Tecnologia i Innovació de Barcelona. Enguany el centre neuràlgic del NOVUM es trasllada i convertirà el Disseny Hub Barcelona en un laboratori a l'aire lliure. La paleontologia tindrà el seu espai diumenge, amb dos tallers organitzats des de l'Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP) sobre evolució humana i paleontologia virtual. 

Els tallers de l'ICP se celebraran a la Carpa Newton instal·lada a la Plaça de les Glòries de Barcelona diumenge 26 d'abril. Totes les activitats són gratuïtes i estan organitzades en col·laboració amb l'empresa Nusos.

- Fes servir el cap! Taller sobre evolució humana on, utilitzant les matemàtiques i a partir de la utilització de rèpliques dels principals cranis d’homínids, podrem endinsar-nos en un  tema tan interessant com és el de la nostra evolució. Es treballarà amb diferents rèpliques: Hispanopithecus laietanus, Australopithecus afarensis i A. africanus, Homo habilis, Homo ergaster, H. heidelbergensis, Homo neanderthalensis i H. sapiens. Adreçat a públic adult i familiar, a partir de 8 anys. El taller començarà a les 10:30 h i té una durada aproximada de 90 minuts.

- Ous i petjades de dinosaure: del fòssil al 3D. Enterraven els ous, els dinosaures? Per què feien postes comunes? En aquest taller veurem com les troballes de fòssils i postes d'ou de dinosaure al Pirineu ens permeten tornar al passat de fa 65 milions d'anys gràcies a la reconstrucció virtual més capdavantera d'avui dia. Una activitat que ens porta al passat a través del futur! Adreçat a públic familiar a partir de 6 anys. El taller començarà a les 12:30 h i té una durada aproximada de 90 minuts.

Podeu consultar totes les activitats de la Festa que se celebrarà el cap de setmana en aquest enllaç. Les persones que participin en més de 10 activitats i segellin la butlleta que es distribuirà a la Festa tindran un obsequi.

Enguany, però, el Novum es desenvoluparà durant gairebé tres setmanes i a diferents espais de la ciutat amb l'objectiu de treure la ciència i la tecnologia al carrer i acostar-la als ciutadans. Xerrades, maratons, exposicions, documentals, performances, tallers, pop up's, experiments tecnològics i formats interactius de ciència perquè el públic pugui interactuar amb la ciència, la tecnologia i la innovació.

+ informació: NOVUM. Festival de la Ciència, la Tecnologia i la Innovació.

Paradeta de llibres al Museu de l'ICP

Paradeta de llibres al Museu de l'ICP

Per la Diada de Sant Jordi, la paradeta de l’ICP tornarà a omplir-se de llibres de paleontologia. Si encara no sabeu quin llibre regalar, enguany hi trobareu propostes per a totes les edats per descobrir l'apassionant món dels fòssils i l'evolució. Entre la selecció de llibres hi podreu trobar "Un passeig per la història de la biosfera", l'obra de divulgació científica sobre l'origen de la vida i l'evolució escrita per l'investigador Josep Marmi que l'ICP va publicar l'any passat. Durant tot el dia, el Museu farà jornada de portes obertes. A més, divendres viurem l'entrega dels premis corresponents a la quarta edició del concurs de relats “Històries Fòssils” que enguany ha estat sobre el triceratops. 

Un any més, l'ICP se suma a la celebració de Sant Jordi amb una paradeta on s'exposaran una sèrie de títols adreçats a tots aquells que es volen iniciar en el món de la paleontologia o que en volen saber més. A més, el Museu farà jornada de portes obertes durant tot el dia. 

Entre els llibres que podreu trobar en destaquen els editats per l'ICP com el llibre "Un passeig per la història de la biosfera", de Josep Marmi, on s'explica l'origen de la vida i l'evolució al nostre planeta. El llibre inclou il·lustracions d'espècies extintes fetes pel mateix autor i per les il·lustradores Agnès i Aina Amblàs. També hi trobareu el llibre "Dinosaurios del Levante Peninsular", que recull la història del les troballes de dinosaures des del segle XIX fins a l'actualitat en aquesta zona i altres propostes adreçades al públic adult.

Evidentment, tampoc hi faltaran tots aquells llibres de dinosaures que entusiasmen nens i nenes. El conte "Fa olor de dinosaure", és un relat il·lustrat d'una trentena de pàgines, que narra la visita d'un grup de setze adolescents a un museu de Paleontologia i està dirigit a nens i nenes a partir de 10 anys. Per infants a partir de 4 anys trobareu"Dinosaures", un conte amb enganxines d'aquests fabulosos animals. "La meva primera guia de camp" inclou 70 peces per muntar 8 dinosaures i un diorama desmuntable. I això és només una mostra!

A partir de les 18h, l'il·lustrador Roc Olivé signarà exemplars del seu llibre "Dinosaures", una selecció de més de 100 dinosaures i més de 70 rèptils prehistòrics que van compartir el cel i els mars amb els grans saures, catalogats per mides.

Lliurament dels premis del concurs literari "Històries fòssils"

Per tancar aquesta setmana dedicada a la lectura paleontològica, el divendres dia 24 a les 6 de la tarda es donaran a conèixer els guanyadors de la quarta edició del concurs de contes “Històries Fòssils”. El concurs es va convocar el passat mes d’octubre i ha recollit més de 100 relats que parlen sobre el Triceratops, l'emblemàtica peça del Museu i que des del setembre de l'any passat torna a estar exposada. Els membres del jurat del concurs de contes “Històries Fòssils” són: Joaquim Carné, regidor de cultura de l'Ajuntament de Sabadell; Josep Fortuny, Coordinador del Grup de Recerca de Paleontologia Virtual i Cesc Bosch, expert en literatura infantil.  

Tots els participants del concurs que assisteixin a l’entrega de premis, rebran un obsequi per animar-los a seguir llegint i creant històries fòssils. Els tres autors guanyadors, un per cada categoria, estan convidats per l'ICP a una excursió per 4 persones per a visitar algun dels jaciments paleontològics en els que treballa l'ICP. 

+ info: L’adreça del Museu de l’ICP és C/ de l’Escola Industrial, 23 (Sabadell). Podeu consultar totes les activitats del Museu en aquest enllaç, així com a Facebook i Twitter.

Estado en el que ha quedado la zona afectada del Mirador (Àngel Galobart)

Estado en el que ha quedado la zona afectada del Mirador (Àngel Galobart)

La zona que exhibía huevos de dinosaurio del yacimiento musealizado del Mirador del Cretáceo (Coll de Nargó, Lleida) apareció ayer por la tarde completamente destrozada por la acción de un vándalo que destruyó todos los restos de huevos que afloraban. El ataque fue descubierto por Ángel Galobart, jefe del grupo de investigación del Mesozoico del ICP que dio aviso al Departament de Cultura de la Generalitat y al Ayuntamiento de Coll de Nargó. Cerca de esta zona en el año 2009 se extrajo la puesta de huevos de dinosaurio más grande recuperada en Europa.

La zona del Mirador afectada se encuentra en la parte inferior del yacimiento que muestra una cuadrícula que simula una excavación y donde el visitante podía observar cáscaras de huevos de dinosaurio, muy abundantes en esta zona. Los yacimientos de huevos de dinosaurios son muy escasos en Europa y esta zona de los Pirineos era uno de los máximos exponentes. "Han arrancado los huevos, los han roto y los restos aparecen esparcidas por todo el yacimiento", explica Àngel Galobart, jefe del grupo de investigación del Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP), que descubrió el ataque en una visita rutinaria al yacimiento por la tarde.

Salvador Moyà, director del ICP, ha calificado la acción de inconcebible y lo ha comparado con los ataques que los yihadistas están haciendo últimamente en Irak contra bienes culturales. "Es totalmente inadmisible, es como si hubieran dañado el Pantocrátor de Sant Climent de Taüll. El patrimonio paleontológico es patrimonio cultural y debe ser protegido con la misma intensidad que el patrimonio arqueológico", comentó. El ataque ha sido puesto en conocimiento del Servicio de Arqueología y Paleontología del Departament de Cultura de la Generalitat, el organismo que vela por la protección de este patrimonio.

Detalle de la zona de huevos de dinosaurio de la zona del Mirador antes (izquierda) y después (derecha) del ataque (Jordi Galindo / Àngel Galobart)

Detalle de la zona de huevos de dinosaurio de la zona del Mirador antes (izquierda) y después (derecha) del ataque (Jordi Galindo / Àngel Galobart)

El alcalde de Coll de Nargó, Benito Fité, también lamentó profundamente la acción. Desde hace años, el municipio está invirtiendo recursos para convertir el patrimonio paleontológico de la zona en un atractivo turístico. "Es un gran paso atrás, una catástrofe. Perdemos un activo muy importante, ya que la visita al yacimiento se incluía dentro de la visita del museo ", comentó. El yacimiento musealizado forma parte del espacio Dinosfera dedicado a los dinosaurios y que la próxima semana inaugura la nueva museografía. 

El ICP diseñó hace dos años una acción para preservar los restos de huevos, huellas de dinosaurios y restos vegetales del Mirador del Cretáceo que, al encontrarse en un entorno natural y, sobre todo, debido a la acción de la lluvia, se iban degradado progresivamente. Esta acción también incluía la remodelación de la musealización del mirador para una mejor identificación de los restos por parte del visitante. El proyecto había quedado parado por falta de recursos económicos.

Se da la circunstancia de que este yacimiento ya fue objeto de expolio hace dos años, cuando un vecino de la población se llevó un fósil de un esqueleto de vertebrado que los paleontólogos del ICP estaban a punto de extraer. El fósil fue devuelto en varios fragmentos en el yacimiento tras una llamada anónima al Ayuntamiento, pero los Mossos identificaron al autor de la gamberrada que fue juzgado y condenado a pagar una multa de 90 euros el pasado mes de junio.

Notícies relacionades:

- Robades les restes de l’esquelet trobat a Coll de Nargó

- Recuperades les restes del fòssil de Coll de Nargó robat al maig

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