”We may have dinosaur eggs here and we may even have crocodile eggs,” geologist Pedro Proença e Cunha, a full professor at the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Coimbra, told Lusa.
A specialist in stratigraphy and sedimentology, Pedro Proença e Cunha studied dinosaur eggs found in Lourinhã, some with preserved embryos.
The geological layers which make up the cliffs of Cabo Espichel reveal, to the geologist’s eye, the potential to find bones and eggs of animals from 129 million years ago.
Proving this, are several bones and distinct fossils already found over years of research. In the present campaign, the researcher found a dinosaur humerus (a small theropod) near the spot where palaeontologist Silvério Figueiredo discovered other fragments of prehistoric animals; dinosaurs, crocodiles and fish.
“The area has the potential not only to have bones, but, for example, to have eggs,” he said, pointing to the rock formations surrounding the site under exploration.
“Regarding the geological component, there is a exhibition here, I would say, unique in the world! It is classified and worth being enjoyed by a wide public, not only nationally, but also internationally, while avoiding destruction”, he defended.
So that the site, the richness of the landscape inserted in a protected area and the heritage it contains can be enjoyed by the public in general, the geologist considered that “some preparation” will be necessary, in order to guide visitors and avoid the appearance of “fossil hunters”.
Disclosing the finds without running the risk of seeing this heritage destroyed is always “a delicate balance”, he added.
The place where the researchers are working today was a lagoon 129 million years ago, with a dry tropical climate, frequented by animals weighing tonnes, herbivores and carnivores, which left their imprints in various layers and at different times.
The transformations that the Earth has undergone, with “the raising of the Arrábida chain” and the “sapa erosion” caused by the sea have given rise to the cliffs that today appear as “leaves of time” to the geologist’s eyes.
Water courses existing on the site also contribute to the erosion and to expose different layers of sediments in which the specialist identifies climates, fauna and flora.
“We’ve identified various types of footprints, both dinosaur, and new ones, crocodile, and in other cases we can find gastropods, as well as other types of fossils”, he said.