Researchers have disinterred the heaviest known Elasmosaur, a giant reptile, in a remote island in Antarctica. The unearthing of this ancient aquatic reptile took place over a long period as it required time in the face of the extreme water changes.
The Elasmosaur is an ancient giant reptile that lived in the waters of the Cretaceous period at the same time with the dinosaurs. The reptile is thought to have weighed about 15 tons, and it becomes the most complete ancient reptile fossils ever found in Antarctica.
This ancient giant reptile belonged to the Aristonectes genus
The researchers think the recently found aquatic reptile belongs to the family Aristonectes, a group whose species have been labeled as the mavericks to other Elasmosaurs because they varied so much from the other fossilized species found in the US. This specimens lived in the Southern Hemisphere and had shorter necks and larger skulls.
The unearthing of this ancient aquatic reptile completed in 2017, providing the team with a considerable part of the animal’s skeleton. José O’Gorman, a paleontologist with the National Scientific and Technical Research Council of Argentina who is based at the Museum of La Plata near Buenos Aires, and his colleagues detail the skeleton in their recent study published in Cretaceous Research.
The aquatic reptile found in Antarctica represents the heaviest Elasomsaur ever found
O’Gorman noted that the team found no skull, but they got several pieces of the animal. They think that the Elasmosaur weighed between 11.8 tons and 14.8 tons, with a total length of 40 feet. Even though some prior known Aristonectes have weighted approximately 11 tons, the majority of other Elasmosaurs only had about five tons.
The animal is also quite exotic as it dates near to the end of the Cretaceous period, sometimes 30,000 years before the total extinction event that annihilated the non-avian dinosaurs, approximately 66 million years ago.
Numerous marine specimens would have had to live there so that the giant aquatic reptile had enough prey to feed. The fact that these reptiles continued to live until the end of the Cretaceous period is an additional proof that the marine creatures were doing well, at least until the mass annihilation of the dinosaurs.