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New ichthyosaur found in Arctic



From: Ben Creisler bh480@scn.org

Reuters news item:
http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsArticle.jhtml?
type=scienceNews&storyID=6135142&section=news

New Fossil of Fish-Like Reptile Found in Arctic
Thu 2 September, 2004 13:32 
By Alister Doyle 
OSLO (Reuters) - Scientists have found a 16-foot fossil of 
a new species of fish-like lizard that swam the seas 160 
million years ago when dinosaurs ruled on land. 
The ichthyosaur -- a giant reptile with fins and big 
teeth -- was found with another 10 or so skeletons of 
creatures in a Jurassic graveyard on a Norwegian Arctic 
island about 1,000 miles from the North Pole. 
"We believe it's a new species of ichthyosaur," Joern 
Hurum, assistant professor at Oslo's Geological Museum, 
told Reuters on Thursday. The creature looked a bit like a 
cross between a crocodile and a dolphin. 
"Only a few species of ichthyosaur are known and none of 
this age from this region," he said of the site on 
Svalbard. Other ichthyosaurs from the Jurassic period have 
been found in Germany and Britain. 
The Norwegian scientists found the fossils almost by 
chance after they were sent to dig up a smaller fossil 
plesiosaur -- a type of long-necked aquatic reptile with 
four big flippers -- found by students two years ago. 
"We found about 10 skeletons in the same place," Hurum 
said, including a far bigger plesiosaur about 10 meters 
long. The 3-foot-long head of the ichthyosaur had been 
taken to Oslo for further study. 
Scientists had covered over the Arctic site because frosts 
had returned after the brief summer. "It's really hard to 
dig in the region with permafrost," Hurum said. "There's 
probably only about a month a year when the site is 
accessible." 
Ichthyosaurs fed on squid and other marine organisms in 
warm seas. In the Jurassic period, the site of the Arctic 
fossil bed would have been far further south, around what 
is now Germany.