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First dinosaur traces found in South Pacific

SYDNEY (AFP) - An Australian-based researcher said that he had found the first proof that land-dwelling dinosaurs lived on remote islands in the south Pacific.

Jeffrey Stilwell, a US-born fellow in palaeontology at Melbourne's Monash University, said he discovered the fossilized foot, finger and spinal bones of carnivorous dinosaurs on the Chatham Islands, about 850 kilometers (530 miles) east of New Zealand.

The discovery confirmed that the Chathams were once connected to New Zealand by a finger-like extension, Stilwell told AFP.



The article is:

Jeffrey D. Stilwell, Christopher P. Consoli, Rupert Sutherland, Steven Salisbury, Thomas H. Rich, Patricia A. Vickers-Rich, Philip J. Currie and Graeme J. Wilson (2006). Dinosaur sanctuary on the Chatham Islands, Southwest Pacific: First record of theropods from the K?T boundary Takatika Grit. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 230: 243-250.

Abstract: "Cretaceous?Tertiary (K?T) boundary (ca. 65 Ma) sections on a Southwest Pacific island containing dinosaurs were unknown until March 2003 when theropod bones were recovered from the Takatika Grit on the remote Chatham Islands (latitude 44° S, longitude 176° W), along the Chatham Rise. Tectonic and palaeontologic evidence support the eastward extension of a ca. 900 km land bridge that connected the islands to what is now New Zealand prior to the K?T boundary. The Chathams terrestrial fauna inhabited coastal, temperate environments along a low-lying, narrow, crustal extension of the New Zealand subcontinent, characterised by a tectonically dynamic, volcanic landscape with eroding hills (horsts) adjacent to flood plains and deltas, all sediments accumulating in grabens. This finger-like tract was blanketed with a conifer and clubmoss (Lycopodiopsida) dominated forest. The Chatham Islands region would have, along with New Zealand, provided a dinosaur island sanctuary after separating from the Gondwana margin ca. 80 Ma."

And while on the subject of New Zealand dinos... what ever happened to that blog about an alleged primitive fossil bird from New Zealand ("pteredon-like" or something)? Does it hold any water, or was it just a wild goose (archaeopteryx?) chase?