Intact, pregnant ichthyosaur fossil recovered from the Patagonian Glacier in Chile

Intact, pregnant ichthyosaur fossil recovered from the Patagonian Glacier in Chile

SANTIAGO, May 11 (Reuters) – Chilean scientists have successfully recovered one of the world’s most complete ichthyosaur fossils with intact embryos from Tyndall Glacier in Chile’s Patagonia region.

The preserved and pregnant ancient marine reptile has been named “Fiona” by scientists. The 4 meter long fossil will help scientists study the embryonic development of ichtyosaurs that roamed the seas between 90 and 250 million years ago.

The fossil “is the only pregnant ichthyosaur found on the planet from 129 to 139 million years ago,” said Judith Pardo, the scientist who discovered the fossil. “So it’s incredibly important.”

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Pardo, a paleontologist at Magallanes University’s GAIA Antarctic Research Center, discovered the fossil more than a decade ago, but the extreme climatic conditions, rugged terrain, and remoteness of the site made the extraction a complex logistical challenge.

Scientists spent 31 days extracting the fossil, which then had to be flown from the site by helicopter. Because the fossil was so complete, paleontologists said they had to extract five blocks weighing 200 kilograms to keep the bones intact.

The fossil is now being prepared for display at the Rio Seco Natural History Museum in southern Chile.

Pardo said scientists also discovered 23 ichthyosaur specimens during the campaign, bringing the total found in Tyndall Glacier to almost 100 and making the region one of the most abundant and best preserved ichthyosaur sites on the planet.

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Reuters TV coverage; Editing by David Gregorio

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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