Chilean Expedition Uncovers Enigmatic Dinosaur ‘Graveyard’

Scientists have uncovered a graveyard with at least 46 specimens of nearly complete ichthyosaurs skeletons in Chile’s Patagonia region as melting glaciers reveal new clues into the prehistoric creatures of South America.

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(Image credit: Wolfgang Stinnesbeck)

Dozens of nearly complete fossils of marine reptiles known as ichthyosaurs were found in sedimentary rock near the Tyndall glacier in southern Chile.

‘Fish Lizards’

The dolphin-like creatures, whose Greek name means ‘fish lizards,’ were a group of large, fast-swimming marine reptiles that swam the seas about 245m to 90m years ago, during the Mesozoic Era, between the Triassic and Cretaceous Eras

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(Image credit: Wolfgang Stinnesbeck)

Ichthyosaurs, whose Greek name means “fish lizards,” were a group of large, fast-swimming marine reptiles that lived during the Mesozoic Era, about 245 to 90 million years ago.

Well-Preserved Skeletons

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(Image credit: Eberhard Frey)

The team found fossils from juveniles as well as adults, with the largest more than 16 feet long (5 meters). The skeletons were extremely well preserved — some even retained soft tissues.

Muddy Demise

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(Image credit: Judith Pardo Perez)

Probably killed during a series of catastrophic mudslides, the creatures were preserved in deep-sea sediments that were later exposed by the melting glacier, the researchers say.

Tyndall Glacier

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(Image credit: Wolfgang Stinnesbeck)

Stinnesbeck and his team found the early Cretaceous (100 to 150 million years old) specimens near the Tyndall Glacier in the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.

Fossils Emerge

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(Image credit: Wolfgang Stinnesbeck)

As the glacier melted, the rock containing the fossils became exposed, Stinnesbeck told Live Science.

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