Tech UPTechnologyThey find the complete fossil of a pregnant female...

They find the complete fossil of a pregnant female ichthyosaur


In an expedition led by the University of Magallanes (UMAG) in the area of the Tyndall Glacier in Chilean Patagonia during March and April 2022, within the limits of the Torres del Paine National Park, a team of scientists has discovered the fossilized remains of a four-meter-long ichthyosaur on a melting glacier deep in Patagonia. The ichthyosaur, who has been named Fiona , was pregnant at the time of her death 139 million years ago and had several embryos still in her womb.

His remains, completely intact, were delicately collected using a helicopter. Given the remote nature of the find, collecting this specimen was no easy task; something that made possible the financing of the National Research and Development Agency of Chile (ANID).


It is the first complete ichthyosaur specimen from Chile

“Fiona” completes a group of 23 prehistoric reptiles recovered in the region, with the particularity that this fossil female ichthyosaur comes with several embryos in her womb.

The fossilized remains are estimated to be between 129 and 139 million years old from the Lower Cretaceous and it was precisely the melting of the ice in the Tyndall Glacier area in Chilean Patagonia that has revealed this fossil treasure.

The expedition lasted 31 intense days and was led by Judith Pardo-Pérez, the first female paleontologist to lead a large expedition in Patagonia.

The exceptional ichthyosaur is the only pregnant Valanginian-Hauterivian female recorded and extracted on the planet. Along with Fiona, a further 23 new specimens were discovered during the expedition, making Tyndall Glacier the most abundant ichthyosaur graveyard in the world, according to the team. All of them will contribute to the investigation of these ancient animals, their characteristics and how they lived.


“The excavation of the four-meter-long fossil, complete and with embryos in gestation, will help provide information about its species , about the paleobiology of embryonic development and about a disease that affected it during its life,” explained Pardo-Perez Pérez. “The results of the expedition met all expectations, and even more than expected. We hope to obtain results on the diversity, disparity and paleobiology of ichthyosaurs from the Tyndall Glacier locality, establish degrees of bone maturity and ecological niches to evaluate possible dietary transitions that occurred throughout their evolution and that could help establish paleobiogeographic connections with ichthyosaurs. from other latitudes.

They lived with the dinosaurs

Ichthyosaurs were marine reptiles that lived in the age of the dinosaurs and are famous for their fish-like shape, similar to today’s dolphins. These reptiles were distributed throughout the world geography and could reach 18 meters in length.

The order Ichthyosauria was first established by the French naturalist Henri Ducrotay de Blanville in 1835.

“The considerable number of ichthyosaurs found in the area, including complete skeletons of adults, juveniles and newborns, provides a unique window into the past,” he said. “International collaboration helps to share this exceptional ichthyosaur graveyard with the world and, to a large extent, to promote science ,” the researchers conclude.

Referencia: Chile’s first complete ichthyosaur recovered from a glacier in Patagonia. University of Manchester 2022

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