Intact, Pregnant Ichthyosaur Fossil Recovered From Chilean Patagonian Glacier

Paleontologists from the GAIA Antarctic Research Center of the University of Magallanes recover the first fossil of a four-meter ichthyosaur from the Tyndall Glacier area in Chilean Patagonia, Magallanes, Chile April 2, 2022. Picture taken April 2, 2022. GAIA Antarctic Research Center University of Magallanes/Handout via REUTERS

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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 dubbed “Fiona” by scientists. The 4-meter-long fossil will help scientists study the embryonic development of ichthyosaurs, which roamed the seas between 90 and 250 million years ago.

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

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

Scientists spent 31 days extracting the fossil which then had to be airlifted off the site. 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 being prepared for display at the Rio Seco Natural History Museum in southern Chile.

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

Reporting by Reuters TV; Editing by David Gregorio

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