Photo: Fossil discovered in Chile (National Museum of Natural History)
Paleontologists working in central Chile’s Bio Bio region found fossil remains of a previously unknown species of plesiosaur, a marine reptile that went extinct more than 60 million years ago.
The scientists, who published their findings in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, uncovered the first fossil in 2001.
“The first that appeared was the skull without the body, but the curious phenomenon of the tide caused different parts of the animal’s neck to surface in 2009,” co-author David Rubilar-Rogers, a paleontologist with Chile’s National Museum of Natural History, told Efe.
With a somewhat shorter neck than its kin north of the equator, the Aristonectes quiriquinensis inhabited the seas of the Southern Hemisphere from around 251 million to 65 million years ago.
“One would think that, as they are reptiles and live in the water, they should be found in all the world’s oceans, but it’s strange that they are different in the Northern Hemisphere and in the South,” Rubilar-Rogers said. “We are studying why it’s that way.”