First Sauropod Fossil Found in Antarctica

When you hear “long-necks on ice”, the first thing that probably comes to mind is a cold beverage. However, today we’re talking about a different kind of long-neck, a sauropod! A team from Argentina discovered a sauropod vertebra in Antarctica, according to an article on LiveScience.  This is a significant find because sauropod fossils had been found on every continent in the world except for Antarctica.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Sauropods were a group of long-necked dinosaurs that included the Diplodicus, Brachiosaurus, and the Apatasaurus. They lived on earth about 100 million years ago in the upper Cretaceous period. Though other dinosaur bones have been found in Antarctica, the discovery of the sauropod vertebra is the first of its kind.

The discovery was made by Ariana Paulina Carabajal, a paleontologist at the Carmen Funes Municipal Museum in Plaza Huincul, and her team from Argentina. Carabajal’s team flew to James Ross Island via helicopter. Being dropped off in the frigid domain must have been a humbling experience. “When the helicopter leaves you there just with boxes and goes back to the base … you feel like Ooh, what am I doing here?'” Paulina Carabajal said. She later came to appreciate her surroundings a little better.

Her team didn’t have any luck finding dinosaur bones until the end of their stay, when they decided to go to the site where the first Antarctic ankylosaur was found in 1986. That is where they discovered the single sauropod vertebra. The single fossil makes it difficult to identify the exact species, however they know that it belonged to a type of Titanosaur. Titanosaurs were common to South America and weighed around 100 tons.

So how did these Titanosaurs arrive in Antarctica? Back in the Cretaceous period, the continents were vastly different than they are today. Antarctica was actually connected to Australia and South America, and was further north. This would have made the climate acceptable to these sauropods along with an easy walk  over land, instead of the swim through frigid waters that it is now.  This significant find will hopefully shed more light on how these wonderful creatures spread across the globe.

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Darrin Jenkins

Darrin is an IT manager for a large electrical contractor in Louisville KY. He is married and has 3 kids. He loves helping people with their technology needs. He runs a blog called Say Geek!