Plant-eating dinosaur discovered in Antarctica

Dec 19, 2011

For the first time, the presence of large bodied herbivorous dinosaurs in Antarctica has been recorded. Until now, remains of sauropoda - one of the most diverse and geographically widespread species of herbivorous dinosaurs - had been recovered from all continental landmasses, except Antarctica. Dr. Ignacio Alejandro Cerda, from CONICET in Argentina, and his team's identification of the remains of the sauropod dinosaur suggests that advanced titanosaurs (plant-eating, sauropod dinosaurs) achieved a global distribution at least by the Late Cretaceous. The Cretaceous Period spanned 99.6-65.5 million years ago, and ended with the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Their work has just been published online in Springer's journal, – The Science of Nature.

Sauropoda is the second most diverse group of dinosaurs, with more than 150 recognized species. It includes the largest terrestrial vertebrates that ever existed. Although many sauropod remains have been discovered in North and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe, there is no previous record of sauropoda in Antarctica. Other important dinosaur discoveries have been made in Antarctica in the last two decades - principally in the James Ross Basin.

Dr. Cerda and colleagues report the first finding of a sauropod dinosaur from this continent and provide a detailed description of an incomplete middle-tail vertebra, recovered from James Ross Island. The specific size and morphology of the specimen, including its distinctive ball and socket articulations, lead the authors to identify it as an advanced titanosaur.

These titanosaurs originated during the Early Cretaceous and were the predominant group of until the extinction of all non-bird dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous. Although they were one of the most widespread and successful species of sauropod dinosaurs, their origin and dispersion are not completely understood.

The authors conclude: "Our discovery, and subsequent report, of these sauropod dinosaur remains from Antarctica improves our current knowledge of the dinosaurian faunas during the Late Cretaceous on this continent."

Explore further: T. rex gets new home in Smithsonian dinosaur hall

More information: Cerda IA et al (2011). The first record of a sauropod dinosaur from Antarctica. Naturwissenschaften – The Science of Nature. DOI 10.1007/s00114-011-0869-x

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User comments : 6

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tadchem
not rated yet Dec 19, 2011
This should surprise no one. One cannot have a food chain without herbivores. In particular, the biomass devoted to herbivores must be many times larger than the biomass devoted to carivores, and but a small fraction of the biomass devoted to plants. I would be interested to know about the Jurassic and Cretaceous *flora* of Antarctica.
Sinister1811
1 / 5 (2) Dec 19, 2011
A little more information would've been nice. But the article was interesting, nevertheless. It shows that life existed on every continent during both the Jurassic and Cretaceous. Kind of makes me wonder what Antarctica would have looked like during that time.
Pirouette
2.7 / 5 (7) Dec 19, 2011
Question is: where was the South Pole in that time frame. If Antarctica had enough plant life to support plant-eating sauropods and other dinosaurs, then Antarctica could not have been at the South Pole but still attached to Pangaea as were the other continents. That still leaves the question of where was the South Pole.
foofighter
5 / 5 (1) Dec 19, 2011
Hey Kevin, I guess this proves the flood waters hit Antarctica too, right? LOLZ
Parsec
3 / 5 (2) Dec 19, 2011
Question is: where was the South Pole in that time frame. If Antarctica had enough plant life to support plant-eating sauropods and other dinosaurs, then Antarctica could not have been at the South Pole but still attached to Pangaea as were the other continents. That still leaves the question of where was the South Pole.

The South Pole hasn't migrated. Continents however have. Studies have shown that Antarctica was pretty close to the south pole then as today.
jsa09
not rated yet Dec 20, 2011
It is not so much where was the south pole but where was the axis of the Earth in relation to Antarctica. I have read elsewhere however that it was not that far removed from where it is now 65 Million years ago. Which would mean that even if temperatures were warmer it would still be very cold in Winter and too dark for much vegetation to grow.

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