Chilean ichthyosaurs discovered

This video is called The history of paleoillustrations: Ichthyosauria.

From the Santiago Times in Chile:

Palaeontologists discover Jurassic marine reptile fossils, the oldest ever found in Torres del Paine

February, 11 2010

After undergoing difficult weather conditions (heavy rain, strong winds, and frequent snow storms) palaeontologists at Torres del Paine National Park in Chile’s Patagonia recently uncovered the remains of four marine reptiles from the Jurassic period.

The Jurassic classification of the reptile, scientifically named Ichthyosauri, makes these fossils the oldest found in the area. One of the female skeletal fossils contained fossil evidence of a reptile fetus.

“[This discovery] makes the Torres del Paine National Park one of the most important paleontology sites for marine reptiles in the world,” said University of Heidelburg professor Wolfgang Stinnesbeck.

The palaeontologists were also able to extract bone marrow from the remains, which will be analyzed in German labs to reconstruct and study the dinosaur’s anatomy.

Ichthyosaurs, though living at the same time as dinosaurs, are not dinosaurs themselves.

The presence of bone marrow demonstrates the incredible preservation conditions unique to Torres del Paine, said Chilean biologist Judith Pardo.

The excavation project, which began in 2007, is led by German experts Stinnesbeck and Eberhard “Dino” Frey from the Karlsruhe Natural History Museum.

Marine reptiles, which at the time of the last great extinction included mosasaurs, plesiosaurs and pliosaurs: here.

A teenager in Queensland, Australia, recently dug up a 100-million-year old Dinosaur Era marine reptile in his school’s vegetable garden. A local museum has since identified the fossil as belonging to an ichthyosaur: here.

Giant reptiles that ruled dinosaur-era seas might have been warm-blooded, a new study says: here.


10 thoughts on “Chilean ichthyosaurs discovered

  1. Ichthyosaur fossils found in school

    * Kym Agius
    * From: AAP
    * May 31, 2010 6:41PM

    DINOSAUR [sic] fossils have been discovered in a veggie patch at a Queensland school, 100 million years after the beasts roamed the inland sea.

    Year 10 student Raymond Hodgson and groundsman Ben Smith unearthed six vertebrae from the ichthyosaur on May 20, while laying out a vegetable garden at the Richmond State School, in the state’s northwest.

    Mr Smith said Raymond was complaining about the difficult digging after he had struck something hard.

    “He hit a rock, and once he got it out, he threw it to the side because he wasn’t taking any notice,” he told AAP.

    “I picked it up and had a look at it, and thought ‘That looks more like a fossil than a rock’.”

    Students and the principal descended on the patch and watched as five more vertebrae were unearthed.

    “Of all things in the school ground, you don’t expect to see that,” Mr Smith said.

    The curator of local fossil museum Kronosaurus Korner, Paul Stumkat, said ichthyosaurs were prolific in the area from the end of the Jurassic period through to the early Cretaceous period.

    “They were the wilderbeasts of the Cretaceous inland sea,” Mr Stumkat told AAP.

    The creature looked like a cross between a dolphin and a shark and could grow to about eight metres.

    They had some of the largest eyes in the animal kingdom, allowing them to dive to the dark depths of the inland sea to hunt squid.

    The ichthyosaur found at Richmond State School came from a mature adult and Mr Stumkat is hoping its skull will be found.

    “To find fossils is great, but to find a complete animal is better,” Mr Stumkat said.

    The Richmond area is famous for fossils.

    Mr Stumkat said a “grey nomad” was travelling just outside of the town in May last year, when he came across a fossil by accident.

    “He went to relieve himself, and he came across an ichthyosaur,” Mr Stumkat said.

    “As we were excavating, it disappeared halfway along so we were suspicious that something bit the whole thing in half.”

    He said many of the museum’s 500 specimens had bite marks, mainly from ichthyosaurs and kronosaurus – a marine reptile that was, arguably, the largest in the world.

    The ichthyosaur fossils found by Raymond and Mr Smith are on display at the school and the veggie patch has been relocated for now.


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