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"Did 'Nessie' roam Down Under?"
From Rueters, via CNN.COM:
Did 'Nessie' roam Down Under?
Evidence of giant marine reptiles swimming around Australia
Wednesday, July 26, 2006; Posted: 1:13 a.m. EDT (05:13 GMT)
SYDNEY, Australia (Reuters) -- Australian scientists have identified two new
species of ancient marine reptile, similar to the mythical Loch Ness
monster, that swam in an Australian outback sea 115 million years ago.
The reptiles, named Umoonasaurus and Opallionectes, belonged to the
Plesiosaurs group which included a "killer whale" type predator of the
Jurassic period, palaeontologist Benjamin Kear from the University of
Adelaide said on Wednesday.
Kear, whose team studied 30 opalized fossils mainly from around the outback
mining town of Coober Pedy in South Australia state, said the long-necked
marine reptiles swam in the shallow water of an inland sea that once existed
in central Australia.
Freezing polar water covered large parts of Australia 115 million years ago
when the island continent was located much closer to Antarctica.
The Umoonasaurus was about 2.4 meters (7.2 feet) long and had three
crest-like ridges on its skull.
"Imagine a compact body with four flippers, a reasonably long neck, small
head and short tail, much like a reptilian seal," Kear said in a statement.
The Opallionectes was much larger at six metres (18 feet), with masses of
needle teeth used to trap small fish and squid.
Kear said most of the fossils found were of juvenile creatures, leading the
scientists to believe they had discovered a seasonal breeding ground for the
The Loch Ness monster, sometimes called Nessie, is a mysterious and
unidentified animal said to live in Loch Ness, a large freshwater lake in
Scotland. Most scientists and experts say it's a hoax.
Copyright 2006 Reuters.