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The chance of two different research groups finding two different fossils that are in fact two different kinds of species within the course of a week is close to impossible. However, this rare and lucky occurrence in the paleontology world has occured. Two research teams have retrieved fossils of two different dinosaurs in Antarctica that might possibly be unknown species.
Judd Case and James Martin discovered bones, specifically those of the lower legs and feet, as well as the animal’s upper jaw and teeth. These fossils are said to be related to the carnivorous theropods, such as tyrannosaurs and velociraptors. Theropods have been related with birds and this new fossil’s feet as well as teeth relate it to the extinct carnivores. Also, due to the size and shape of the foot and leg bones, the animal is said to be a running dinosaur about six to eight feet tall.
Thousands of miles away from this excavation sight and during the same week, William Hammer and his research team were in the mountains of Antarctica, about thirteen thousand feet, specifically near the Beardmore Glacier. The pelvis to a plant-eating dinosaur was found buried in solid rock. This pelvis is said to belong to a family of the sauropod, such as the brachiosaurus and diplodocus. “... Hammer and his fellow researchers believe the pelvis- one meter (three feet) across- isfrom a primitive sauropod that represents one of the earlier forms of emerging dinosaur lineage that eventually produced animals more than thirty meters (100 feet) long” (www.nsf.gov 2004). This animal is estimated to be up to seven feet tall and thirty feet long.
These findings are important to paleontology as scientists work to discover more about the Earth’s past. These fossils give more insight into the Earth’s environment million’s of years ago. The fact that these fossils may be new species’ that paleontologists were not even aware of shows how little we may know about the history of the world and what other life walked on the Earth.
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The first fossils that were found my Case and Martin were retrieved around seventy million years ago at the bottom of the very shallow area of the Weddell Sea. This new fossil is the second Antarctic theropod from the late Cretaceous. These fossils may be links to known species, however there are theories concerning the possibilities of the fossils being the first of their kind. The pelvis fossil may be the start of large herbivores, and the bones possibly belonging to the theropod may be a different species all together.
Due to the fact that the pelvis bone was found deep within solid rock and built up sedimentation, the fossil was dated back to around two-hundred million years ago. The placement of the find as well as the surroundings, such as rocks, wood, and other fossilized sediments all take part in the dating of the fossils. The theropod bones were found around layers of continental shelf about six hundred feet deep. The location of the skeleton in the ocean as well as the dating of the continental shelf and its sediment relate to the dating of the fossils.
Paleontologists have to consider several factors when analyzing fossils, trying to figure out what species such fossils belong to. However, some people might raise questions concerning Hammer’s claims about the sauropod-related animal’s size. It might be difficult to determine the animal’s size from a pelvic bone. However, scientists study other fossils of animals with similar pelvic bones as well as animals that have been found in similar environmental conditions.
Whatever scientific theories and claims are made about these new contributions to science’s quest to understand that history of the world, the fact is that paleontology has taken a step closer in it’s discoveries and hopefully these findings open new doors to future scientific research.
www.nsf.org ,“The Lost World” , Feb. 2004. Nation Science Foundation. P. 1-7
www.sciencedaily.com , “Evidence of a ‘Lost World’”, 2004