Scientists from Argentina have uncovered fossil remains of an enormous sea reptile that inhabited Antarctica 150 million years ago.
The reptile is believed to be the most ancient creature ever found in Antarctica.
Unexpected Discovery Of Giant Sea Creature
A team of scientists was surprised to discover the remains of a giant plesiosaur in a new paleontological site located two hours away from the Argentine Marambio Base in Antarctica.
The scientists believe that the 4-finned meat-eating reptile inhabited Antarctica around 150 million years ago during the late Jurassic era. They also consider the reptile, which measures up to 12 meters in length, to be the most ancient creature ever found on the Antarctic continent.
Antarctica used to be part of a continent that included Africa, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and India, according to Marcelo Reguero of the Argentine Antarctic Institute.
Never Been Documented Before
The National University of La Matanza in Argentina stated that the discovery came as a surprise to scientists as it has never been reported in the Antarctic continent before.
The site where the sea reptile was discovered is known to hide remains of a number of diverse sea creatures, including bivalves and ammonites. However, scientists say they did not expect to discover such a giant sea creature in the same area.
Soledad Cavalli, a paleontologist from the National Scientific and Technical Research Council, explained that the types of rock in the site were considered to be unfavorable for the preservation of skeletons.
As of now, the scientists did not provide any more details about the newly-discovered ancient plesiosaur, but they said they plan to continue working on the discovery by early next year.
Oldest Known Plesiosaurs Were Strong Swimmers
The fossil remains of the oldest known plesiosaur, Rhaeticosaurus mertensi, were discovered in a clay pit in Germany by a private collector back in 2013.
Unlike the newly discovered sea creature, this plesiosaur is believed to have lived on Earth during the Triassic era around 201 million years ago. Researchers from the University of Bonn, for the first time, attempted to describe the ancient reptile's effective swimming ability in a recent study published in the journal Science Advances.
They believe the reptile propelled itself through the ocean using underwater flight similar to the way penguins and sea turtles propel themselves into the sea. They also suggest that plesiosaurs adapted to forage while they were in the open ocean.
The Rhaeticosaurus mertensi species are known to have evolved and survived the mass extinction that marked the beginning of the Jurassic period before dying out completely along with the dinosaurs around 66 million years ago.