site.btaUS Dinosaur Expert Steve Brusatte Joins Team of 5th Paleontological Expedition in Western Bulgaria
American scientist Steve Brusatte joins the team of the fifth paleontological expedition of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences to the Late Cretaceous fossil fauna site near Tran (Western Bulgaria), BTA has learned from the NMNH. The previous four expeditions led to the discovery of fossils of more than one species of dinosaur as well as tortoises, crocodile-like animals and various microvertebrates, making the site near Tran one of the most prospective scientific ones from 85-80 million years ago in Europe.
The fifth expedition was launched a week ago. On the team led by Dr Latinka Hristova from the NMNH are paleontologists from the Museum, the St Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia, and the Geological Institute with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, as well as students from the Sofia University’s Geology programme.
Prof Brusatte is a vertebrate palaeontologist and evolutionary biologist who specialises in the anatomy, genealogy, and evolution of dinosaurs and other fossil organisms. He currently works in Scotland, where he is Personal Chair of Palaeontology and Evolution at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Geosciences.
Prof Brusatte is an expert on tyrannosaurs and their close relatives. He has described over 15 new species of fossil animals. He has written over 200 scientific papers, as well as textbooks, encyclopedias, articles, and the adult pop science book The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs (2018). He was a scientific consultant for the BBC's Walking With Dinosaurs team as well as for the Hollywood blockbuster Jurassic World Dominion.
Prof Brusatte told BTA that the dinosaurs found near Tran have the potential to become some of the most important new world discoveries in this scientific field. Their age and location are of particular significance.
The paleontologist said that in the Late Cretaceous, the larger part of Europe was under water and some of the highest mountains were like islands in the sea. Discoveries made in Romania and Spain indicate that many of the dinosaurs on these islands were miniature, dwarf versions of the big ones known to have lived on the continent, possibly because of the lack of enough resources or space. The site near Tran could give answers to some of the questions about the evolution of these creatures as the findings show the dinosaurs found in Bulgaria are slightly older and they, too, lived on an island. They might be the ancestors of the dwarf dinosaurs, Prof Brusatte said.
This year’s expedition to the site near Tran is funded under the Bulgarian National Science Fund as part of a project on fundamental research of significant moments in the history of fauna and humans’ past.