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CNN: Giant Dinosaur-Age Bones in Antarctica Clue to Warmer Climate
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Giant Dinosaur-Age Bones in Antarctica Clue to Warmer Climate
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- Discoveries in Antarctica of bones from
the time of dinosaurs are exciting scientists pondering the mysteries of
past global warming and continental drift, an American geologist said
A geological expedition has unearthed what project leader Dr. Jim
Martin of the Museum of Geology in South Dakota called "huge deposits"
of dinosaur-age bones in the remote Vega Island, Seymour Island and
Antarctica Peninsular areas.
The remains include bones of two giant marine reptiles: the mosasaur, a
razor-toothed "duck-bill" animal with paddles, and the plesiosaur, which
resembles popular images of Scotland''s Loch Ness monster. Both were
American geologists made the find in January. It was announced this
week at the International Symposium on Antarctica Earth Sciences at
Victoria University in Wellington.
Martin said the find shows at least four different types of mosasaur
lived in Antarctica. One type had previously been found only in North
America and Europe.
"Mosasaurs have been found across the world from Sweden to New
Zealand, but we had no idea of them in Antarctica," Martin said. "To
find a whole bunch of them like this was really surprising."
The find was further evidence that the continents were once much closer
than they are now, with connecting marine corridors, Smith said.
It also shows that Antarctica was once much warmer than it is now.
Martin said the creatures probably came to Antarctica around 75 or 80
million years ago. The Antarctic climate at the time was "probably
subtropical in temperature."
"This era is a perfect analogue for global warming," Martin said. "It
was much warmer worldwide then. That''s the only way these reptiles
could have swum around in the water. You don''t see too many
warm-blooded or semi-warm-blooded animals running round in the
Mosasaurs could be 33 feet long and were armed with teeth up to four
inches high, Smith said. Their skulls could "easily" be more than 3 feet
"Mosasaurs were fantastic animals," Smith said. "The lower jaw was
hinged so they could eat things larger than their own heads. They were
very fast in the water, tail propelled. They were eating machines --
they were designed to eat anything and they did."
Expedition members were very excited at the find, which included
complete fossilized vertebrae, partial skeletons, whole jaws and teeth.
The fossils are being studied by a team at the South Dakota museum,
which has found striking similarities between dinosaurs found in the
Antarctic and other parts of the world.
"There must have been a pretty cosmopolitan distribution of these
things at the end of the age of dinosaurs," Smith said.
Flying Goat Graphics
(Society of Vertebrate Paleontology member)