A team of Argentine paleontologists unearthed a giant reptile in Antarctica. Looking like the famous Loch Ness monster, this huge Elasmosaurid found in Antarctica is the largest one of its species ever found so far. The Argentine Antarctic Institute conducted the research, and the paleontologist José O’Gorman of the Museum of La Plata (MLP) and CONICET stated that this discovery is a significant one.
The Lock Ness monster-like giant reptile from Antarctica lived around the end of the Cretaceous era, meaning that this Elasmosaurid is also the closest one to the period of dinosaur extinction, besides being the most massive of its species that has ever been found, at the moment. Nonetheless, the work of the Argentine Antarctic Institute took several years, and the scientists extracted the specimen in 2017.
“Due to the large size of this specimen, its rescue was carried out during successive campaigns of the Argentine Antarctic Institute, and its rescue culminated in 2017,” stated the study’s leading author in the Cretaceous Research journal.
Specific eating habits made this Elasmosaurid a giant reptile like the Loch Ness monster
According to José O’Gorman, the giant reptile found in Antarctica developed some unique eating strategy that helped it considerably grow in size. “It weighed between 10 and 13 tons, so it is well above those [Elasmosaurids] that were known until now, which had a mass of between five and six tons,” added Dr. O’Gorman. It is the most massive specimen of its kind.
Elasmosaurids belong to the Plesiosaurus family, the giant reptile species that inspired people to create the famous Loch Ness monster. However, the Elasmosaurid found in Antarctica was part of the Aristonectes sub-species that developed a particular way of feeding, similar to modern whales. More specifically, the giant reptile was swimming with its mouth open to swallow small fish, crustaceans, and so on.
The rescue of the giant reptile was challenging for the Argentine Antarctic Institute. The fossils of this huge Elasmosaurid were found in 1989, but the specimen was entirely recovered only in 2017. “The collection was carried out over many years, and many teams have participated; this evidences the need for support of the scientific activity that the Argentine Antarctic Institute has maintained over time,” concluded Dr. O’Gorman.
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