Titanosaur bone found in Antarctica
Published 19/12/2011 | 14:32
Long before the arrival of penguins, giant plant-eating dinosaurs roamed Antarctica.
Scientists discovered a fossil tail bone belonging to a titanosaur, a family that included the largest land animals ever to walk the Earth.
Titanosaurs were sauropods, four-legged herbivorous dinosaurs with long necks and tails.
Sauropods included some 150 species whose remains have been found around the world, but never in Antarctica until now.
The new specimen was discovered on James Ross Island by an Argentinian-led team and it consists of section of vertebrae almost 20cm long believed to have come from the middle third of the dinosaur's tail.
Scientists identified it as belonging to a "lithostrotian titanosaur" from the Late Cretaceous period around 70 million years ago.
The discovery is reported in the German journal Naturwissenschaften - The Science of Nature.
Authors Dr Ignacio Alejandro Cerda, from the Conicet research institute in Argentina, and colleagues wrote: "Our finding indicates that advanced titanosaurs achieved a global distribution at least by the Late Cretaceous."
Titanosaurs included the mighty Argentinosaurus, which may have reached 100ft in length.
However, the discovery of a single vertebrae fossil yielded too little information to allow speculation about the dinosaur's species.