Chronicle

The discoveries of the people of Duino Aurisina in the 1960s: The history of this field can be traced back to the 1960s. The men of the village were aware of the peculiar black pieces that surfaced on these rocks; they did not know what they were, but they detached some of those pieces and used them as charcoal to write on the walls of the village.

11. november 1990: the news (photo 2):

The series of events that brought us all here today, had actually begun on the 11th of December 1990, when the local newspaper Il Piccolo came out with an article "dinosaurs found in the slopes of Monte Ermada".
The news about found fossil bones was the result of the discovery made by some amateurs and experts of the subject. The bizarre location of the place of discovery seemed intentionally wrong, as if to emphasize the authorship of the discovery, but not wanting to share it with anyone.
At that time, neither the discoverers nor other people in the region were able to decide whether the findings were dinosaurs or other Mesozoic reptiles.

1991-1994: Something is moving (photo 5)

The director of the Museum of Natural History, Sergio Dolce, instructed his coworkers to research and remove any other bones that had emerged from the ground. Even though segments of bones had remained in the ground, a large block with a clear section of surfaced bones, was brought to the Museum.

1994; the first excavations (photo 3):

In the year 1994, when the exhibition on the Karst fossils was being prepared, the director of the museum entrusted the Stoneage company to prepare the block. After a night of uninterrupted work, two almost complete legs of a prehistoric reptile emerged from the rock.

The bones definitely belong to a dinosaur (photo 6):

A few weeks later, an international dinosaur expert Dr. Eric Buffetaut, was visiting Trieste, and at the sight of the findings he stated that these "are the front legs of a duck-billed dinosaur". 1994 is the year of the attribution from the discoveries at Villaggio del Pescatore to the dinosaurs. In the same year, during a survey of the site, a geology student, Tiziana Brazzatti, discovered a series of three fingers that had surfaced in the bushes. This discovery turned out to be what today we know as Antonio.

1996; the excavations begin (photo 7):

In December 1996, the first excavation campaign began (7). The goal was to remove the block with a long, dark section, which suggested that it contains a whole skeleton. (Photo 8)


The removal of the block was very difficult, due to unfortunate weather conditions, and for the first time in this area, the diamond wire was needed to cut the block out properly. Later, in an attempt of the preparation, the find turned out to be a whole dinosaur, a hadrosaur, but it also appeared fossilized and did not allow even a partial extraction. Because of the peculiarities of fossilization, important characteristics for the following studies of these dinosaurs, the skull was the only thing showing. (Photos 10 and 11)

1996; here comes Antonio (photos 12 and 13):
Natural History Museum entrusted Stoneage to remove the block of rock on which the three fingers had been discovered two years earlier. The preparation of the block brought to light two complete and perfect front legs of a hadrosaur and the traces of other bones of the skeleton were visible where the remains that had sunk into the ground.

1998; the second excavation campaign (photos 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 18a)
In an attempt to remove the dinosaur’s skeleton, in 1998 a new excavation campaign began. To pass the diamond wire through the rock, perforations had to be made. (Photo 14)

The floor you are walking on today was the horizontal cut. This is the level on which the large boulders were slid away in order to access the blocks containing the skeleton. By this point, the dinosaur is already known as ‘’Antonio’’. (Photo 15)

Given the delicacy of the operation, the main block had to be removed by hand. (Photo 16).

And the section of the skull, affected by a natural fraction of the rock, emerged. (Photo 17)

The blocks were numbered during the movement, in case of a possible repositioning at the site. (Photo 18a)

Antonio’s preparation begins!
The preparation was chemical. Formic acid was being sprayed on the specimen, aimed at the sections that needed to be cleaned. The acid only dissolves the matrix composed of calcium carbonate, leaving the bones, made of calcium phosphate, untouched. Little by little emerges the outline of the skull and then the skeleton of what so far remains the largest Italian dinosaur. (Photo 20, 21, 22, 23)

This is what the skeleton looked like, turned upside down, when it was excavated, compared to the replica you see here today. (Photo 24)

December 11th of 2000: Complete Antonio is introduced to the world
The result of years of work is presented to the press and the public on December 11th 2000 at the Superintendency in Piazza Libertà in Trieste. In 9 days 11,000 people saw the exhibition.

Antonio is not alone!
During the extraction of Antonio, other significant finds come to light. Three crocodiles, one of which is almost complete, another hadrosaur named Bruno, who is the same species as Antonio but a meter longer, and a part of his skull and tail remained in the ground, and then we have Zdravko, a dinosaur named after the person who carried out the work with the diamond wire and unfortunately recently passed away. Zdravko can be seen in a section on the ground: we do not know exactly what species it is, and the find awaits a more detailed investigation.

2013; the paleontological site finally opens its doors to the public!
In 2013, La Cooperativa Gemina has committed itself to make the paleontological site accessible and open for its guided tours. Thanks to the collegial work carried out with the superintendence of Friuli Venezia Giulia, the owner of the land, the Regional Museum Complex of Friuli Venezia Giulia and the Museum of natural history in Trieste, it is now possible to share the greatness of this still mysterious territory with the public.

2018; the preparation of Bruno, the second complete dinosaur found at the site, begins.
The blocks containing the dinosaur Bruno had been excavated and moved uncut to the Museum of natural history in 1998, and Bruno had been waiting to be unearthed ever since. Thanks to the commitment of the superintendence, the Zoic company from Trieste was authorized to begin the preparation of Bruno's skeleton in the year 2018.
After weeks of challenging work of reassembling the blocks, Bruno underwent the same process as Antonio; the phase with the formic acid.
(Photos: the beginning of Bruno’s preparation).

2018-2019; to complete Bruno, his skull and tail are being excavated.
After the work on Bruno's body had come to an end, the extraction of the skull and tail, which were at this point still encased in the rocks of the Paleontological Site of Villaggio del Pescatore, finally began.
A proper extraction work was accomplished by the Zoic company of Trieste and the years 2018 and 2019 brought to light the missing parts of the dinosaur and it was then possible to proceed with the final preparations. (Photo Bruno’s skull and tail)

November of 2019, Bruno is finally complete!
Two years after the resumption of work, the dinosaur Bruno is complete and prepared to be put on display alongside his partner Antonio; he is ready to tell us about a part of the past of our beautiful region.
YOU CAN FIND ALL THE INFORMATION ON OUR WEBSITE:
https://cooperativagemina.com
Facebook Page
Telephone: +39 3347463432