Dragons, Dinosaurs and the Like – a Skull Fragment from the Tinzenhorn

The famous natural scientist Johann Jakob Scheuchzer was convinced around the year 1700, that curious creatures live in Graubünden: "This is such a mountainous and cave-filled land that it would probably be strange if there were no dragons there."

No remains of dragons have been found thus far. However, there have been several fossils of creatures that are no less curious. Dinosaurs, for instance. Approximately 200 million years ago, six-metre-long sauropods roamed the area where the Tinzenhorn stands today. Fossils of a pterosaur (or “flying dinosaur”) and land-dwelling predatory dinosaurs were also discovered in the area. In addition, a Metoposaurus was navigating the waters in the region, a sea creature that looked like an oversized salamander. This is evidenced by a skull fragment found in 2009 around the Tinzenhorn which today is part of the collection of the Bündner Naturmuseum in Chur.

However, how did the remains of a marine creature end up in the mountains? Short answer: the formation of the Alps occurred no earlier than 90 to 30 million years ago. Prior to that, the area that today is known as Graubünden was more similar to the Bahamas than a mountainous region.

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