Paleontologists discover 139-million-year-old pregnant dinosaur fossil in Chile

(ORDO NEWS) — Archaeologists in Chile have discovered the fossilized remains of a 13-foot-long pregnant ichthyosaur in a melting glacier – the first time a complete ichthyosaur has been discovered in the country.

The 139-million-year-old fossil was carefully collected from a helicopter following an expedition conducted in March and April this year by the University of Magallanes (UMAG) near the Tyndall Glacier in Chilean Patagonia.

Named “Fiona” by scientists at the University of Manchester, the 139-million-year-old fossil died while pregnant with a few embryos still in its belly.

Ichthyosaurs were marine reptiles that lived during the age of the dinosaurs, and Fiona is the only pregnant female of Valanginian-Gauterian age – from 129 to 139 million years old, dating back to the early Cretaceous period – that has been unearthed on the entire planet.

Dr Dean Lomax, a paleontologist who worked on the study, said: “The fact that these incredible ichthyosaurs are so well preserved in the extreme environment exposed by a retreating glacier is unparalleled anywhere else in the world.

Paleontologists discover 139 million year old pregnant dinosaur fossil in Chile 2
The remains of the creature, named Fiona by researchers at the University of Manchester, have been discovered in a melting glacier deep in Patagonia. Photo: University of Manchester

The significant number of ichthyosaurs found in the area, including complete skeletons of adults, juveniles and newborns, provides a unique window into the past.”

Now the researchers want to find out what information they can glean from the incredibly rare find.

Collecting this specimen was not easy, since the glacier is 10 hours away on foot or horseback. The expedition lasted 31 days and was described by the researchers as “an almost titanic challenge”.

“At four meters long, fully assembled and with embryos during pregnancy, the excavation will help provide information about her species, the paleobiology of embryonic development and the disease that struck her during life,” said Dr. Judith Pardo-Perez, who led the study. .

In addition to Fiona, 23 new specimens were discovered during the expedition, making Tyndall Glacier the richest ichthyosaur graveyard in the world, according to the team.

Fiona was first discovered in 2009 by Dr. Judith Pardo-Perez, a Magellanic paleontologist and UMAG researcher.

Paleontologists discover 139 million year old pregnant dinosaur fossil in Chile 3

Along with Fiona, the expedition unearthed 23 new specimens, making Tyndall Glacier the richest ichthyosaur graveyard in the world, according to the team.

Fiona will now be prepared in the paleontological laboratory of the Rio Seco Museum of Natural History in Punta Arenas, where she will be temporarily stored for a later exhibition.

Online:

Contact us: [email protected]

Our Standards, Terms of Use: Standard Terms And Conditions.