Some 150 million years ago, Western Portugal was a great coastal basin with plentiful supplies of water and vegetation that made it an ideal habitat for dinosaurs. At one site of particular interest, a group of female dinosaurs once gathered to lay their eggs in the calm waters of the lagoon. The youngest stood 6 metres tall, with the eldest some 8 metres. Each laid 20 eggs, measuring 12 cm each.
Today, visitors can see the fossilised remains of the eggs of 180 carnivorous dinosaurs making it the largest such nest in the world - and uniquely the eggs contained embryos. This is how Portugal stamped its mark on the map of palaeontology.
The full story is told at the Municipal Museum of Lourinhã, the town that gave its name to the dinosaur species discovered here, the Lourinhanosaurus.
Today, we can walk the fine sandy beaches of Lourinhã beneath spectacular cliffs where some remnants of those giant animals still remain. Because when you’re down on the beaches or up in the cliffs at Praia de Porto Dinheiro (Lourinhã), Praia Grande (Sintra), Praia dos Lagosteiros (Sesimbra) or Praia de Salema (Vila do Bispo), don’t be surprised to find that you’ve just spread your towel on the fossilised footprint of a very large dinosaur!