Illustration courtesy Orlando Grillo and Maurilio S. Oliviera
Published August 24, 2011
Fossils from the oldest known Antarctic "sea monster" have been found, a new study says.
"The fragments we found don't belong to any group registered on the continent before, which indicates a greater diversity of the plesiosaurs in Antarctica than previously suspected," said team leader Alexander Kellner, of the National Museum of Brazil at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
Fragments of the vertebrae, head, and flippers suggest the newfound plesiosaur was 20 to 23 feet (6 to 7 meters) long. The bones weren't, however, enough to identify the species of the plesiosaur.
Plesiosaurs roamed the seas worldwide between about 205 million to 65 million years ago, reaching the Southern Hemisphere by the mid-Jurassic. The animals had a range of different sizes and features, but mostly shared small heads, long necks, and big bodies. (See a prehistoric time line.)
"If the Loch Ness monster ever existed, this would be its best representation," Kellner said.
The specimen was found amid more than 2.5 tons of fossils and rock samples collected during an expedition to Antarctica's Ross Island (see map) in 2006 and 2007.
Most of the material, stored at the National Museum, consists of invertebrates and plants, including tree fragments that are the same age as the plesiosaur.
"The trees indicate that there were forests in Antarctica at that time," Kellner said. "We believe these animals lived in a very different environment from today's, in a temperate climate."
The new sea monster discovery was published in June in the journal Polar Research.
i am amazed to look at this monster. this monster looking very dangerous. i guess he had been very dangerous
This extremely interesting. I used to love dinosaurs and wanted so hard to become a paleontologist because of them.
this animal doesnt look friendly at all...and ya'll talkin about having and adventure with it? hells no
I wish they were still alive... If these beasts could be tamed I would want to own thousands of them :D
Hmmm fascinating to think that plesiosaur fossils could be that old I wonder if they are still roaming the deepest depths of oceans now... *looks out boat window* holy snap!
Wow this is fascinating. It's always exciting to find out about other dinosaurs that haven't been discovered yet.
@JULIAN Quijano Where would you have fit such a large creature?
In the insular world of dogsled racing, the Yukon Quest is considered the world's most difficult event.
A cache of medieval Arab gold coins may already be the largest in the eastern Mediterranean, and there's probably more to come.
Neglect, fear of Islamic State radicals, and conflicts born of ancient animosities are conspiring against a deteriorating synagogue and the tomb of Nahum.
The Future of Food
How do we feed nine billion people by 2050, and how do we do so sustainably?
We've made our magazine's best stories about the future of food available in a free iPad app.