Villány wine region, paradise of palaeontologists
Apparently, Villány wine region is a paradise for palaeontologists. This has been a fruitful year for palaeontologists working in the Villány region of Baranya County, as many 200-million-year-old fossils have been found there, pecsma.hu reports. It is interesting to think that 200 million years ago, gigantic predators populated the area where today’s people sit around, peacefully sipping wine.
The Villány wine region is one of the most famous ones in Hungary. With its wine hotels, wine fests and wine tasting events, the region is the No. 1 place in Baranya where people go to relax and have a good (boozy) time. However, this time wine is not in the spotlight, dinosaurs are.
A group of researchers from ELTE’s Department of Palaeontology were not working in the Villány region for two weeks this summer for nothing. Many valuable fossils, teeth, vertebrae and even a half metre long mandible have been discovered in the area which is already well-known for being rich in fossils. Martin Segesdi from ELTE’s palaeontology team reported on their findings.
The fossils are from the Triassic period; their estimated age is 230-240 million years.
The most important fossil discovered was the half-metre-long mandible belonging to a Nothosaurus, whose estimated size was 4-5 metres.
Nothosaurus is an extinct marine reptile from the Triassic period. Nothosaurus was a semi-oceanic animal, which had a similar lifestyle to that of today’s seals or crocodiles.
The different vertebrae found belonged to the weird-looking Tanystropheus, which was a 6-metre-long reptile also from the Triassic period.
Tanystropheus had an extremely elongated neck, which was as long as its body, Segesdi said.
Márton Szabó is another member of ELTE’s palaeontology team, who’s a specialist of prehistoric fishes. He said that hundreds of teeth have been discovered, belonging to Placodonts (“Tablet teeth”).
Placodonts are extinct marine reptiles from the Triassic period. Placodonts were generally between 1 to 2 metres in length. Szabó also said that it takes a long time to examine these tiny (few millimetres long) teeth.
Footprints of the unique Komlosaurus (“Komlo lizard”) have also been found. Komlosaurus is somewhat younger than the ones mentioned before, it is from the Early Jurassic. Due to the changes in Earth’s history, this prehistoric reptile was terrestrial as opposed to the other ones, which were all marine reptiles.