A mother lode of dinosaur fossils approximately 67 million to 71 million years old has been discovered by a team of international scientists in the Antarctica, and the remains might provide clues about the end of the Age of Dinosaurs, according to Tech Times. For now, the dinosaur fossils, discovered on Vega Island near the James Ross island area, have been transported to Chile, and from there will be sent to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pennsylvania, where they will be further examined and studied.
The gods of climate change smiled fortuitously on the international team of paleontologists, from the United States, South Africa and Australia, as their expedition was made possible because snow had melted away from the rocky areas where they excavated a horde of dinosaur fossils. Still, at times the going got tough for the researchers, and they had to employ “a huge icebreaker, two helicopters, and Zodiac inflatable boats,” to get to their destination.
The paleontologists set up camp on Antarctica’s Vega Island for seven weeks during February and March 2016, and hiked the three miles back and forth between their camp and the excavation sites. The scientists also conducted geologic mapping of the island.
The project and voyage to Antarctica’s Vega Island was led by Matt Lamanna, who oversees the fossil collection at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, according to the Tribune-Review. The fossils were cataloged and crated, and will be shipped to California “in early to mid-summer.” Following their arrival, trucks will haul the dinosaur fossils to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Lamanna was excited about the prospect of examining the dinosaur fossils in greater detail when they arrive in Pittsburgh at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. He said, “The collecting is just the beginning.”
According to one of the 12 scientists on the expedition, Paleontologist Steve Salisbury with the University of Queensland School of Biological Sciences, the researchers were able to learn information about the type of environment that the dinosaurs lived in, in part by examining the different thicknesses of the rock layers they found. In one layer of rocks from a marine environment, the paleontologists found “a lot of marine reptile remains,” Salisbury said, “like plesiosaurs and mosasaurs.”
In fact, fossils of marine reptiles made up most of their haul, which weighed approximately an entire ton, according to the website Nature World News. They also excavated remains of early ducks. The researchers’ main excavation site was located on Sandwich Bluff.
Salisbury said that it might take the team of international researchers up to two years to process and analyze all of the information they can from the mother lode of dinosaur fossils they excavated while in Antarctica on Vega Island. He said that was in part because the larger bones they found must be prepared carefully before they could be examined further.
After the fossils are processed and prepared, according to Salisbury, the paleontologists will likely publish more than one study, related to the various fossils they unearthed during the expedition. He has expressed a desire to return to Antarctica in search of dinosaur fossils in the near future, in order to conduct more studies.
The mother lode of dinosaur fossils excavated from the Antarctic’s Vega Island will potentially provide the researchers involved in collecting them enough material to stay busy for several years writing studies about their find. The majority of the fossils were of marine reptiles. The variety of fossils they excavated was also impressive, leading Lamanna to say, “this takes the cake.” For more CDA News, follow our tweets on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
By John Samuels
Photo Courtesy NASA