[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Antarctic Hadrosaur



Before the AAAS meeting, Don Lamson posted a note about this, and I called
up NSF for details, a question which led to the press release below. What
were Hadrosaurs doing in Antarctica in the Late Cretaceous, which at the
time was pretty much was where is is now? As the release says, there
probably was some sort of land bridge.

I think Judd Case should be back about now, so he might be able to cast
more light onto the matter. Early details were based on a message the folks
in ANtarctica relayed to the home base in Argentina, which the general in
charge of the military base (which runs the Argentine Antarctic program)
announced. The bird bone was not a claw, as had been reported elsewhere.

Sadly, I have little to report on rumors of scurrulious doings and
carousing at AAAS. At least I didn't get to do much carousing. -- Jeff Hecht


Media Contact:                                  February 6, 1998
Lynn Simarski                                        NSF PR 98-7
(703) 306-1070/lsimarsk@nsf.gov

Program Contact:
Scott Borg
(703) 306-1033/sborg@nsf.gov

             NEW DINOSAUR FINDS IN ANTARCTICA PAINT
                FULLER PICTURE OF PAST ECOSYSTEM

     A team of Argentinean and U.S. scientists has found fossils
of a duck-billed dinosaur, along with remains of Antarctica's
most ancient bird and an array of giant marine reptiles, on Vega
Island off the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

     The tooth of a duck-billed dinosaur, or hadrosaur, was found
in sands about 66-67 million years old, from the Cretaceous
period (about 1-2 million years before the asteroid impact that
contributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs).  The team that
found the fossils is headed by Sergio Marenssi of the Instituto
Antartico Argentino and Judd Case of St. Mary's College,
California.

     "This is the first duck-billed dinosaur to be found outside
the Americas," said Mike Woodburne, University of California
Riverside paleontologist who is part of the project.  "This gives
us more support for the idea of a land bridge between South
America and Antarctica at that time." The land bridge was used
not only by dinosaurs but probably also by marsupial mammals
dispersing from the Americas to Australia via Antarctica.

     The hadrosaurs are a distinctive group of American
dinosaurs, known for fancy crests on their skulls with networks
of passageways that may have been used for vocalization and that
may suggest the animals were social.   Some stood perhaps 20 feet
tall.

     "This find allows us to paint a much fuller picture of what
life was like in Antarctica at the time," commented Scott Borg,
NSF program manager for Antarctic geology and geophysics.  "The
climate was obviously very different when these animals lived.
There must have been a lot of vegetation to support these large
planteaters.  The find implies a complicated and robust
ecosystem."

     The region around Vega Island is extremely rich in both
terrestrial and marine fossils, and the only such fossil trove in
Antarctica to span the boundary of the Cretaceous and Tertiary
periods, the time when the dinosaurs were wiped out.

     The team also recovered a four-centimeter-long piece of a
foot bone from what appears to be Antarctica's most ancient bird
yet found.  Also collected were numerous partial skeletons of
gigantic marine reptiles called plesiosaurs and mosasaurs.
According to James Martin,  a South Dakota School of Mines
paleontologist on the dig, these specimens included several
juveniles which are very rare in the fossil record.

     The group of paleontologists also includes members from the
Smithsonian Institution and Argentina's Museo de la Plata.

                              -NSF-