Skip to main content

Photos: Carnivorous Dinosaur Discovered in Italian Alps

Four-fingered dinosaur

Saltriovenator Four-fingered dinosaur

(Image credit: Davide Bonadonna)

The newly identified dinosaur Saltriovenator zanellai was found in the Italian Alps. The carnivorous beast lived during the Jurassic period about 200 million years ago. It was likely covered with an early type of feathers. [Read more about the four-fingered dinosaur]

Mountainous find

Saltriovenator Four-fingered dinosaur

(Image credit: Simone Maganuco)

The map (left) shows where S. zanellai was discovered, in the Italian village of Saltrio. The amateur fossil hunter Angelo Zanella first spotted the bones in 1996, and the scientists named the species name after him.

The Saltrio quarry (top right) is less than 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of Milan, by the Swiss border. Researchers worked hard (bottom right) to excavate the dinosaur's fossils from the quarry.

Time investment

Saltriovenator Four-fingered dinosaur

(Image credit: Cristiano Dal Sasso and Giovanni Bindelllini)

It took the scientists many hours to fully excavate the bones from the rock. Here is a time sequence (top to bottom) showing how the bones were revealed during acid preparation over the course of a year.


Saltriovenator Four-fingered dinosaur

(Image credit: Gabriele Bindellini)

At the Natural History Museum of Milan, paleontologist Cristiano Dal Sasso (left) and co-researchers Simone Maganuco and Andrea Cau (center and right) look at the bones of Saltriovenator at the Natural History Museum of Milan.

Large dinosaur

Saltriovenator Four-fingered dinosaur

(Image credit: Andrea Cau)

This is a simplified evolutionary tree of bipedal, predatory dinosaurs, called theropods. Saltriovenator (in red) predates the other large meat-eating dinosaurs by more than 25 million years. It's also the oldest known ceratosaurian from the Jurassic period, and the world’s largest predatory dinosaur from the Lower Jurassic.

Break a leg

Saltriovenator Four-fingered dinosaur

(Image credit: Gabriele Bindellini)

Cristiano Dal Sasso (left) and Angelo Zanella (right) match the shoulder girdle and right forelimb of Saltriovenator with a lifesize silhouette of the dinosaur. The white bones in the background are largely based on similar dinosaur species — mainly Ceratosaurus and Dilophosaurus.

Boney beast

Saltriovenator Four-fingered dinosaur

(Image credit: Marco Auditore)

A skeletal reconstruction of Saltriovenator zanellai. The discovered bones are shown in orange. For scale is Angelo Zanella, who stands about 5 feet, 6 inches (1.67 meters) tall.

[Read more about the four-fingered dinosaur]

Laura Geggel
As an associate editor for Live Science, Laura Geggel covers general science, including the environment, archaeology and amazing animals. She has written for The New York Times, Scholastic, Popular Science and Spectrum, a site covering autism research. Laura grew up in Seattle and studied English literature and psychology at Washington University in St. Louis before completing her graduate degree in science writing at NYU. When not writing, you'll find Laura playing Ultimate Frisbee.