A new Alaskan elasmosaur reptile was discovered by a fossil collector from Anchorage in the Talkeetna Mountains of the northernmost state of the U.S. The discovery of this new type of sea dwelling giant has spurred enthusiasm from researchers in the field of marine paleontology.
The fossils are extremely interesting, as they may pertain to a new type of elasmosaur. The elasmosaur is a genus of the plesiosaur which presents a very long neck and a body that only covers about a third of its length. This species of marine giant reptile (which is not a dinosaur, do not confuse them) is said to have lived approximately 80.5 million years ago, during the Late Cretaceous.
Since the first elasmosaur was discovered by Dr. Theophilus Turner back in 1868, there have been more than a few so-called “discoveries” of new species of elasmosaur, yet all but one have since been reclassified as other types of plesiosauruses.
The fact that the researchers from the Museum of the North of the University of Alaska have confirmed the discovery is an indication to the fact that this may actually be a new species of the elasmosaur. The bones were found by Curvin Metzler, a fossil hunter from Anchorage, and the museum’s curator of Earth Sciences, Patrick Druckenmiller, back in June this year.
Although these great beasts of the seas look like dinosaurs, surely sound like dinosaurs in name, as well as have lived at roughly the same time as dinosaurs, one may not actually call them dinosaurs. The plesiosaurus species were sea-dwellers which never came unto land. To be able to be called a dinosaur, the reptiles have to have walked on the Earth, and not swim within its waters.
Curvin Metzler has been extremely active in finding plesiosaurs in recent years, having collected a lot of other parts of bone from various regions across the western part of North America. Back in 2010, he also found an almost complete skeleton of another elasmosaur in Montana, and offered it to the local museum located in Fairbanks.
Druckenmiller was very excited, apparently, when Metzler contacted him about the fossil, and immediately jumped at the chance of possibly unearthing the whole skeleton of the 25-feet long creature. Yet, there have been technical difficulties in the process, as this elusive elasmosaur was buried in stone some 30 feet up a 60-foot long cliff.
But the two are optimistic that they will eventually take out all of the fossils. Up until now, they say that they have found about half of the remains of the animal that, according to them, looked pretty much like the Loch Ness monster.
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