Plesiosaur discovery in Chile

This video says about itself:

This animation shows how the juvenile plesiosaur, discovered in Antarctica by an American-Argentine research team, might have appeared.

From I Love Chile News:

Chile’s Loch Ness Monster: New Marine Reptile Fossil Found

February 10 15:28 2014

by Josh King

Paleontologists working in Chile’s Bío Bío region have discovered the fossilized remains of a previously unknown species of marine reptile.

Bío Bío — The fossilized remains of a species of plesiosaur has been discovered by a group of Chilean paleontologists working in the country’s Bío Bío region. The Aristonectes quiriquinensis specimen is over 60 million years old and lived in the seas of the Southern hemisphere as long ago as 251 million years.

That is a confusing sentence. 60 million and 251 million is quite a difference. Aristonectes is said to be from the Late Cretaceous, 100-66 million years ago. So, this species did not exist yet 251 million years ago. And 60 million years ago, all plesiosaurs, like all dinosaurs, had become extinct.

The plesiosaur was a large marine reptile that inhabited all of the world’s oceans. They appeared during the late Cretaceous period<,

No, the origin of plesiosaurs is earlier. During the Triassic.

and since being found and named in 1821, over a hundred species have been found. They are probably most well-known in modern popular culture as the template for the Loch Ness Monster, which has the benefit of making this species quite famous and generating interest for the study of ancient creatures, but also often makes people mistake the plesiosaur for a made-up fantasy creature. Much to the dismay of any paleontologist.

This new species was first found in 2001, when only its skull was discovered. In 2009, however, parts of its neck were found and it was seen to have a slightly shorter neck than those found in the Northern Hemisphere. This meant that there was a notable difference between Northern and Southern species.

Having published their findings in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, the paleontologists are now studying the remains to find out why these differences have occurred.

With evidence of new extinct creatures being discovered all the time, such as the large meat-eating dinosaur found last year in Utah, it’s just as exciting as ever to hear about new findings of these ancient giants and beginning to sort out the fantasy from the reality.

The scientific description of the species newly discovered in Chile is here.

19 thoughts on “Plesiosaur discovery in Chile

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