Fossil reptile in New Jersey, USA


This video is called Tribute to Tanystropheus (a relative of Tanytrachelos ahynis).

From NewJerseyNewsroom.com in the USA:

Fossil hunters donate 215 million-year-old specimen to N.J. State Museum

Monday, 29 March 2010 13:33

Skeleton of primitive reptile was found in Bergen County quarry back in 1979

What is described as a remarkably complete fossilized skeleton of a primitive aquatic reptile has been donated to the State Museum in Trenton, officials said Monday.

Known as Tanytrachelos ahynis, the primitive reptile lived among the earliest dinosaurs during what is called the Late Triassic Period, approximately 215 million years ago.

Discovered in 1979 by James Leonard and Steven and Trini Stelz in a Bergen County quarry, the friends hope the donation would allow the State Museum’s paleontologists to shed light on the biology of this animal, its ecology and its evolution.

Two hundred fifteen million years ago, northern New Jersey was covered by many rift-valley lakes that were home to a diverse array of insects, fish, amphibians and reptiles, as well as some of the earliest dinosaurs, according to paleontologists. Those ancient lake-bed deposits, now called the Lockatong Formation, have not yielded fossil treasures very often.

But on an October day in 1979, fossil hunters Leonard of Lewisberry, Pa., and Steven and Trini Stelz, then Bergen residents, but now living in Flemington, knew they had found something special. After digging for days to reach the fossil-rich layer in the quarry, the three cracked open a large piece of shale and, “We could not believe our eyes as to what we saw lying there in perfect detail,” Steven Stelz said.

They knew immediately that this was not just another common fish fossil, but something much rarer – a primitive reptile. “It was indeed a thrill to see such a specimen, as we have never found in all the years collecting in that quarry, anything like it before or since” Stelz said.

Leonard and the Stelz’s brought the specimen to Princeton University paleontologist, Donald Baird, who identified it as the complete skeleton of a primitive reptile called Tanytrachelos ahynis. This animal was completely unknown to science only a couple of years prior to the Bergen discovery.

Tanytrachelos ahynis belongs to the Protosauria, a group of aquatic and terrestrial reptiles characterized by long necks. Though some members of this group grew to be 9 feet long, this species only reached about 20 inches in length and is believed to have preyed on small fish and insects.

After being identified by Baird, the fossil specimen was exhibited at the Lamont-Doherty Geologic Observatory in Palisades, N.Y. for many years. Recently though, the original discoverers agreed that such an important specimen should be donated to a museum and made available to scientists for study, and that the specimen should be returned to New Jersey.

“I considered the New Jersey State Museum because the fossil should be on view in its home state, and because I felt that the State Museum will give it a proper home and more exposure to the public,” Stelz said.

In the coming months, the specimen, which is considered world-class, will be studied by the museum’s team of paleontologists.

— TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

1 thought on “Fossil reptile in New Jersey, USA

  1. Pingback: New Nothosaurus fossil in museum | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.