A unique fossil has been discovered in Queensland, Australia: the head and body of Elasmosaurus, a long-necked marine reptile that lived more than 100 million years ago. Scientists expect a lot from this discovery to better understand the diversity and evolution of this species.
“It’s like a Rosetta Stone in marine paleontology, because it could hold the key to understanding the diversity and evolution of long-necked plesiosaurs in Cretaceous Australia,” said Dr Knutsen of the Queensland Museum. We had never before found both the head and body of this Elasmosaurus (A Eromangasaurus australis From the Plesiosaur family), which lived in the Lower Cretaceous period (at least 145-100 million years ago) in the shallow sea that covered most of the area. The lower body was not found: scientists believe it may have been cut in half by a predator, the knonosaur.
This finned marine reptile has a very long neck, and feeds mainly on fish and molluscs. It can be up to 14 meters long and contain up to 71 cervical vertebrae. Australian paleontologists believe that the fossil just found dates from an event.
Explanation explains whatEromangasaurus australis. © Andrei Konstantinov / Espen Knusten / Scott Hocknoll
The rare fossil was discovered by hobbyists, the “Rock Chicks”, a group of friends who meet each year to dig through someone’s possessions. It replaces Dave the Plesiosaur in the Australian paleontological collection with a less complete skeleton discovered in 1999.