Expedition to Antarctica Uncovers a Treasure Trove of 71-Million-Year-Old Fossils

By Carli Velocci on at

Fossils are cool, and earlier this year during an expedition to Antarctica scientists from the University of Queensland collected a bunch of them. Some dating as far back to the Cretaceous era.

The team of 12 scientists reported the discovery of fossils on James Ross Island near the Antarctic Peninsula, which included a mix of marine and dinosaur fossils, dating back at least 71 million years.

An Expedition to Antarctica Uncovered a Treasure Trove of 71-Million-Year-Old Fossils
Plesiosaur skeleton vertebrae. Image: Dr. Steve Salisbury/ The University of Queensland

“We did find a lot of marine reptile remains, so things like plesiosaurs and mosasaurs,” said Dr. Steve Salisbury of the University of Queensland, in a press release. “The rocks that we were focusing on come from the end of the Age of Dinosaurs, so most of them are between 71 million and 67 million years old.”

An Expedition to Antarctica Uncovered a Treasure Trove of 71-Million-Year-Old Fossils
Image: Dr. Steve Salisbury/ The University of Queensland

Following the expedition the team travelled to South America, and their discoveries are currently in Chile. They will be shipped to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History for further study. Scientists don’t expect the full results of the study for another year or two at least, but hope to gain further knowledge into what the environment was like during the time these animals existed. In the meantime, Salisbury hopes that the expedition itself will inspire others to explore and hunt for history.

“What we found or didn’t find isn’t as important as the fact that we were actually there, trying to do it,” Salisbury said. “If that inspires other people to get into the hunt for fossils, then I’ll be very excited.”

[University of Queensland, AustraliaSmithsonian]