Dozens of nearly consummate skeletons of prehistoric marine reptiles convey been uncovered nigh a melting glacier inwards southern Chile.
Scientists found 46 specimens from iv dissimilar species of extinct ichthyosaurs. These creatures, whose Greek mention agency “fish lizards,” were a grouping of large, fast-swimming marine reptiles that lived during the Mesozoic Era, nigh 245 i 1000 one thousand to xc i 1000 one thousand years ago.
The newly discovered skeletons are from both embryos in addition to adults. The creatures, probable killed during a serial of catastrophic mudslides, were preserved inwards deep-sea sediments that were afterwards exposed past times the melting glacier, the researchers said inwards the study, published May 22 inwards the magazine Geological Society of America Bulletin.
Ichthyosaurs had torpedo-shaped bodies amongst vertical flippers, in addition to long snouts amongst teeth.
“They hold back a lot similar dolphins today,” said Wolfgang Stinnesbeck, a paleontologist at the University of Heidelberg inwards Federal Republic of Federal Republic of Germany in addition to the leader of the study.
Stinnesbeck in addition to his squad found the Early Cretaceous (150 i 1000 one thousand to 100 i 1000 one thousand years old) specimens nigh the Tyndall Glacier inwards the Torres del Paine National Park inwards Chile. As the glacier melted, the stone containing the fossils became exposed, Stinnesbeck told Live Science.
Very few of the ancient reptiles convey been found inwards South America before; alone a few remnants of rib cages in addition to vertebrae had been found.
The largest ichthyosaur skeleton unearthed inwards Republic of Chile measures to a greater extent than than xvi feet (5 meters) long. The skeletons were extremely good preserved — roughly fifty-fifty retained soft tissues. The researchers besides found fossil embryos within a woman individual specimen. They assigned the fossils to the identify unit of measurement Ophthalmosauridae.
These “fish lizards” likely hunted inwards an underwater canyon nigh the coastline, pursuing a diet of squidlike animals in addition to fish, the researchers said. Occasionally, in that place would convey been mudflows that cascaded into the H2O similar an avalanche, in addition to the researchers shout out upwardly these mudflows killed the ichthyosaurs. The animals probable became disoriented in addition to drowned, getting sucked into the deep sea, where their bodies were entombed inwards the sediment, the researchers said.
Ichthyosaurs swam the seas at the same fourth dimension equally dinosaurs roamed the world in addition to pterosaurs reigned the skies, exactly they may convey died out earlier their land- in addition to air-dwelling brethren, Stinnesbeck said. H5N1 global depletion of oxygen inwards the oceans, maybe due to volcanism, may convey caused the extinction of these seagoing reptiles, he said.
The regain of these creatures establishes the Chilean glacier equally i of the prime number sites for Early Cretaceous marine reptiles worldwide, the researchers said. But getting to the fossil site is one-half the battle. To accomplish it, the squad had to drive for 5 hours, hike for 10 to 12 hours to campsite in addition to and hence hike roughly other 2 hours, sometimes inwards heavy rain, hail or snow.
The to a higher identify storey is based on materials provided by Geological Society of America.Note: Materials may survive edited for content in addition to length. past times By Tanya Lewis, Staff writer photo Credit: Wolfgang Stinnesbeck