Remains of plant-eating dinosaur unearthed in Antarctica

Washington, Dec 20: Scientists have for the first time recorded the presence of large bodied herbivorous dinosaurs in Antarctica.

Until now, remains of sauropoda – one of the most diverse and geographically widespread species of herbivorous dinosaurs – had been recovered from all continental landmasses, except Antarctica.

But Dr. Ignacio Alejandro Cerda, from CONICET in Argentina, and his team’s identification of the remains of the sauropod dinosaur suggests that advanced titanosaurs (plant-eating, sauropod dinosaurs) achieved a global distribution at least by the Late Cretaceous.

Other important dinosaur discoveries have been made in Antarctica in the last two decades – principally in the James Ross Basin.

Dr. Cerda and colleagues report the first finding of a sauropod dinosaur from this continent and provide a detailed description of an incomplete middle-tail vertebra, recovered from James Ross Island.

The specific size and morphology of the specimen, including its distinctive ball and socket articulations, lead the authors to identify it as an advanced titanosaur.

These titanosaurs originated during the Early Cretaceous and were the predominant group of sauropod dinosaurs until the extinction of all non-bird dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous.

Although they were one of the most widespread and successful species of sauropod dinosaurs, their origin and dispersion are not completely understood.

“Our discovery, and subsequent report, of these sauropod dinosaur remains from Antarctica improves our current knowledge of the dinosaurian faunas during the Late Cretaceous on this continent,” the authors said.

The Cretaceous Period spanned 99.6-65.5 million years ago, and ended with the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Their finding has just been published online in Springer’s journal, Naturwissenschaften – The Science of Nature. (ANI)