Dinosaur "discovered" in Italian church
Oct 26, 2010, 15:39 GMT
Vigevano, Italy - The 'crocodile's head' pattern on a rock- hewn balustrade in the Italian town of Vigevano's cathedral, is in fact the fossilised remains of a dinosaur, an expert said Tuesday.
University of Milan paleontologist Andrea Tintori described the find as 'extremely interesting'.
'Fossils such as these are very rare in the world and in Italy, in this rock type, unique,' Tintori told the newspaper, La Repubblica.
The cathedral of Saint Ambrose in Vigevano - a town in the northern Lombardy region - was completed around 1660.
For centuries, the faithful would have filed past the balustrade towards the altar not for one moment imagining that a dinosaur, or at least the remains of one, lay in the midst of their place of worship.
But Tintori is certain of the importance of his discovery.
'Initially I thought it could be the fossil of a Ichthyosaurus,' he said referring to giant marine reptiles that resembled fish and dolphins.
'But now I'm convinced it is a dinosaur, even if examining it in its present condition it is impossible to say much more ... not even whether it was flesh-eating or plant-eating,' Tintori said.
The reptile's cranium, its nasal lobes and numerous teeth are 'clearly visible,' the paleontologist explained.
Tintori hopes further tests can be made including removing from the balustrade the slab containing the fossil, and taking it to a laboratory where it can be scanned by computer.
The balustrade would then be repaired by replacing the slab with another made from the same type of Broccatello d'Arzo rock which dates geologically from 180 million years ago.
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