Researchers from Heidelberg und Karlsruhe study ichthyosaur graveyard in Torres del Paine National Park at Chile’s southern tip
The cache of skeletal ichthyosaurs stumbled upon ten years ago in Chile turns out to be one of the world’s most significant fossil finds of marine reptiles from the Cretaceous period, containing many nearly fully preserved ichthyosaur skeletons as well as numerous other fossils.
This is the conclusion of a German-Chilean research team of geoscientist Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Stinnesbeck of Heidelberg University and palaeontologist Prof. Dr. Eberhard Frey of the State Museum of Natural History Karlsruhe. The scientists have fully catalogued the discovery for the first time, while at the same time reconstructing the conditions that led to the excellent preservation and unusual concentration of “fish-lizard” skeletons. Their results were published in the journal “Geological Society of America Bulletin”.
In the southern summer of 2004, in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia near Chile’s southern tip, glaciologists stumbled upon the skeletal remains of ichthyosaurs, or fish-lizards, probably exposed just a few years earlier as the Patagonian glacier receded. Prof. Stinnesbeck and Prof. Frey as well as scientists in Chile have spent the last few years studying this new and scientifically rich site. In three expeditions the German-Chilean team of experts uncovered more than 40 virtually complete skeletons of adult and juvenile ichthyosaurs, and even embryos, as well as ammonites, belemnites, bivalves, bony fishes and plant remains. “This concentration is unique for Chile and South America, making the fossil site significant internationally,” explains the researcher from Heidelberg University's Institute of Earth Sciences.
According to the German-Chilean research team, the fish-lizard lived and hunted along the northeastern edge of a deep sea that then separated the Antarctic continent from Patagonia. Adults and juveniles hunted in groups in an underwater canyon rich with squid and small fish, their most important prey. As the continent gradually broke apart, earthquakes or avalanches on the steep slope occasionally unleashed devastating mudflows that sucked everything in their path down with them, including the marine reptiles.
“The air-breathing fish-lizards became disoriented in the turbidity currents. They were sucked down hundreds of metres into the deep ocean,” says Prof. Stinnesbeck. “The fine sediment that was swept along immediately entombed the dead or dying animals.”
The German Research Foundation funded the studies at the site. In addition to Prof. Stinnesbeck and Prof. Frey, Dr. Marcelo Leppe Cartes of the Instituto Antárctico Chileno (INACH), the Chilean Antarctic Institute in Punta Arenas, as well as the Corporación Nacional Forestal (CONAF), the Chilean National Forest Corporation, took part in the project.
Wolfgang Stinnesbeck, Eberhard Frey, Luis Rivas, Judith Pardo Pérez, Marcelo Leppe Cartes, Christian Salazar Soto and Patricio Zambrano Lobos: A Lower Cretaceous ichthyosaur graveyard in deep marine slope channel deposits at Torres del Paine National Park, southern Chile. Geological Society of America Bulletin (published online 22 May 2014), doi: 10.1130/B30964.1
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Stinnesbeck
Institute of Earth Sciences
Phone: +49 6221 54-6057
Prof. Dr. Eberhard Frey
State Museum of Natural History Karlsruhe
Phone: +49 721 175-2117
Communications and Marketing
Press Office, phone: +49 6221 54-2311
Marietta Fuhrmann-Koch | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
From volcano's slope, NASA instrument looks sky high and to the future
27.04.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Penn researchers quantify the changes that lightning inspires in rock
27.04.2017 | University of Pennsylvania
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
27.04.2017 | Life Sciences
27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences