Paleontology student in the discovery of the first placodonts in Portugal


The first placodonts (Triassic reptiles) from Portugal were reported by the Master in Paleontology student Hugo Campos in a new book chapter about Loulé, in Algarve. The discovery is subject of a news in Diário de Notícias that we translate and transcript here.

Discovered in Loulé the first fossils of placodonts known in Portugal

LUSA / LISBON / 16 FEB 2018 / 16:16 H.
Descobertos em Loulé os primeiros fósseis de placodontes conhecidos em Portugal
The first fossils in Portugal of placodonts, aquatic reptiles that lived and died about 220 million years ago, were found in Loulé by paleontologists at the New University of Lisbon, today announced.

Paleontologists Hugo Campos and Octávio Mateus of Universidade Nova de Lisboa told Lusa that in 2016 they found "bones of the ribs and carapace" of placodonts, but only now they divulged the discovery through the publication of the study, inserted in the catalog of the exhibition "Loulé: Territories. Memoirs. Identities ", at the National Museum of Archeology.

"The placodonts are a group of reptiles that had not yet been identified in Portugal, but which is already known in other parts of the world," explained Octavio Mateus, who advise Hugo Campos' master's thesis on paleontology on the vertebrates of the Algarve Triassic.

The study "Loulé for more than 220 Million years: the fossil vertebrates of the Triassic Algarve", now published, which Lusa had access to, describes that placodonts lived during the triassic between 250 and 200 million years at sea, in shallow waters, fed on mollusks and possessed bony plates that gave them a turtle-like appearance.

A large number of these bony plates, which scientists call 'osteodermes', were found in the municipalities of Loulé and Silves in 2016 and 2017.

The researchers believe that these placodonts would be of the genus 'Henodus' by their hexagonal shape, flat, elongated and without ornamentation of the carapace and by the absence of teeth.

In the village of Penina, Loulé, is located that is considered the main deposit of the upper triassic of Portugal and one of the most important in vertebrate paleontology of Portugal.

In this deposit, where the concentration of fossils is very high, ten 'Metoposaurus algarvensis' (amphibian similar to a salamander), bivalves and fish scales, phytosaurs (crocodile-like) and placodonts have been identified, but the number can reach the two dozen animals.

The triassic, the earliest period of the Mesozoic era, was the period of history in which the continents were together in a single supercontinent (Pangeia) and in which dinosaurs and other animals emerged and spread throughout the world, diversifying.

The study on the vertebrates of the Algarve triassic has been carried out by an international team, led by researchers from the New University of Lisbon, funded by the Loulé Municipal Council, and the fossils were prepared in the laboratories of the New University of Lisbon and the Museum of Lourinhã.