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While working in Antarctica, two separate research teams with hundreds of miles between them each made astounding discoveries. They discovered dinosaur fossils. Antarctica has been home to many other dinosaur fossil finds but what was so special about these fossils is that they were from an unknown species of dinosaurs. Really what the discovery compliments is that the discovery of these fossils encourages the theory of plate tectonics and continental drift. Antarctica now is a baron frozen continent with little life. 170 million years ago it was a more habitable environment because was oriented at a different location on earth. The two new species of dinosaurs were that of a meat-eater and a plant-eater. The meat-eater was found on an ancient island the used to be covered by sea and the plant-eater was discovered on the slopes of a mountain that is 13,000 feet high but probably a riverbed at the time when this dinosaur roamed the earth. This discovery not only shows how continental drift and plate tectonics helped the dinosaurs move but also the discovery of two new species of dinosaur. These discoveries will help us further our knowledge of what happened to the dinosaurs.
What the article seems to find most striking is the locale of where the dinosaur’s fossils was found. The fossils of the plant-eater date back to 170 million years ago. The scientists think that the mountain was probably a riverbed or a soft mound. It was not even close to the 13,000 feet that shoots up from the surface of earth almost touching the sky today. On the other hand the meat-eater who was found a rocky island was thought to be killed by rising seas. This dinosaur’s bones date back to about 70 million years ago. This discovery is so important to the scientific community because the plant-eating dinosaur dates back to 170 million years ago. This is when the dinosaurs first started to rule that animal kingdom. These fossils might prove to be useful in learning more about where and what the dinosaurs came from. They could figure out who they evolved from. The other dinosaur comes from around a mass extinction caused by an unknown object form space. By researching these fossils it might help us to see what happened and how the environment changed to completely wipe out the entire race of dinosaurs.
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The age of these two fossils are uncertain. Their age has been estimated by certain paleontologists based on their knowledge of related dinosaurs. The reason they had to estimate was due to the fact of the hostile weather on the Antarctic continent. They left the bones in the rock and had it sent to the primary US Antarctic station. The bones will be shipped to Chicago in the next couple of weeks where they will be studied and a closer and further analysis can be performed on the fossils. A more exact age can be found out and where these dinosaurs came from can be found out. Paleontologists are very anxious about these two fossils especially the sauropod (plant-eating dinosaur) because it was the earliest known fossil found on the continent of Antarctica. Again it is estimated to be about 170 million years old which would put it at the dawn of the Dinosaur species. As soon as they get the bones back to the US and they can find out when these dinosaurs walked on the earth they can place these species in the evolutionary chain of dinosaurs. It may shed new light on older discoveries or it may shatter old theories all together. The age of these fossils is important to the discovery of these reptiles.
In the earlier paragraph I stated the age of the dinosaurs. In geology there in a scale that was devised to help place rocks and such in time by there age. The time period on this scale that we are concerned with is the Mesozoic era. This era is then broken down into three time periods; the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous. These time periods range from about 66 millions years ago to about 251 million years ago. The plant eating dinosaur, or sauropod, is estimated to be from the mid Jurassic period. The theropod, or meat-eater, is in the late cretaceous period. The majority of dinosaurs lived in the Mesozoic era and this era was capped of with a mass extinction that occurred around 65 million years ago. The geological time scale helps geologists as well as paleontologists have a sort of time reference where it is easy to place certain events or when creatures lived on a timescale that ranges billions of years back in history.
Although an amazing discovery because they weren’t on a dino-hunting expedition there are some uncertainties. The discovery was made in December and because of the harsh weather in Antarctica they were unable to unearth all of the fossils and get a complete picture of the dinosaur. They were forced to make educated guesses and form hypotheses about these dinosaurs based in their observations. They cannot form solid conclusions until the fossils reach the US and are thoroughly examined and tested. Once these conclusions are formed we will the most we possibly can about these dinosaur fossils. We will be able to tell there age based on a proven dating method and but other fossils of plant life found with the dinosaurs in the rock. Now we will just have to wait until the fossils are in a laboratory and the proper research can be performed to harvest all the information these fossils will offer.
This discovery is in the preliminary stages but it has great potential. Finding a new species of dinosaur is something to be very proud. One of the men on the expedition, William Hammer, had discovered the first dinosaur on Antarctica in 1991. He is a very accomplished dino-hunter visiting Antarctica seven times in the past four decades. All in all, this discovery is something great. This is not a landmark discovery or one to be remembered for the ages, but it is something. Every dinosaur discovery is something special. Every one adds a piece to the puzzle that is still growing. Only in the past few decades have we really gained an understanding of these prehistoric reptiles. And in the next few decades our knowledge can only grow with ever-greatening technology that will help us analyze more closely and the discovery of more fossils. We can only go up from here.
David Perlam ,San Francisco Chronicle. San Francisco, Calif.: Feb 27, 2004. pg. A.2
Guy Gugliotta ,The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Feb 27, 2004. pg. A.09