Antarctica: Scientists Uncover A Ton Of 71 Million-Year-Old Dinosaur Fossils On James Ross Island

Scientists have uncovered dinosaur fossils in Antarctic that are about 71 million-years-old. The large stash, exceeding a ton, contains rare specimens of plesiosaurs and mosasaurs.

An amazing collection of dinosaur fossils was recently discovered by a team of scientists on their trek to Antarctica. The fossils are believed to be of creatures that existed about 71 million years ago. The fossil hunters made the find on James Ross Island, which is very difficult to reach.

Before the researchers made the discovery, they endured a long and treacherous journey to reach the remote, frigid island. The researchers first flew to South America and then endured a five-day trip through the Drake Passage, which is infamous for its extremely rough seas. The team constantly battled seasickness through their entire journey, reported Miss Open.

Even after the incredible journey, the scientists were nowhere close to the island. Having reached an offshore base, the team set up camp by traveling in helicopters and inflatable boats, shared Steve Salisbury, a researcher at the University of Queensland and one of the scientists on the expedition,

“It’s a very hard place to work, but it’s an even harder place to get to.”

However, their treacherous journey and untiring determination bore fruit. The team discovered over a ton of fossils that belonged to dinosaurs and other creatures that existed at the end of the age of dinosaurs. The team has yet to identify and label all the specimens, but they believe they found fossils of ancient marine creatures, dinosaurs, and birds that lived during the late Cretaceous Period, roughly 71 million-years-old.

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The team of scientists camped on Vega Island for a duration of five weeks. Each day, the scientists hiked over six miles to reach their main site, which was referred to as their “main hunting ground,” and then spent the day systematically sorting through rocks with utmost professionalism.

Scientists shared they were overwhelmed at the quantity of the find and admitted it might take a few years to carefully sift through and catalogue the creatures. However, the team has identified many specimens, shared Dr. Salisbury,

“[We found] things like plesiosaurs and mosasaurs — a type of marine lizard made famous by the recent film Jurassic World. We found a lot of really great fossils. They were all shallow marine rocks, so the majority of things we found lived in the ocean.”

Besides the dinosaurs, the team also found fossils of birds including early ducks that lived at the end of the Cretaceous period, reported ABC News.

The team consisted of 12 scientists from around the world, including scientists from the U.S., Australia, and South Africa. The team had jointly decided to venture south on a fossil hunting mission to James Ross Island, located on the Antarctic Peninsula. Given the extreme remoteness of the island and the difficulty reaching there, the team guessed the island could have remained undisturbed and unaltered by humans.

Often, amateur fossil hunters go on a scavenger hunt and haphazardly excavate remains. Using scientific equipment to carefully observe what’s under the soil before digging is quite important. It makes the difference between finding a complete and intact fossil and stumbling upon bits and pieces.

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Moreover, the Antarctica Peninsula is the only area in the Antarctic where rocks get exposed during a very brief and still frigid summer, reported Smithsonian Magazine. These rocks are extremely old and owing to the limited amount of oxygen, fossils have been preserved in immaculate condition. Antarctica is a great place to hunt for dinosaur fossils, but the extremely difficult journey and the treacherous seas that are choked with sea ice has made landing there, quite difficult, added Dr. Salisbury.

[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]