Dinosaur fossils found in Patagonia provide the first evidence long-necked diplodocid sauropods survived beyond the Jurassic period, when they were thought to have gone extinct.
Argentine paleontologist Pablo Gallina, a researcher at Buenos Aires’ Maimonides University, described the find as the first definitive evidence that diplodocids reached South America, and the most recent geologic record of this branch of sauropod anywhere.
“It was a surprise, because the first remains we found were very deteriorated and we didn’t think much of them, but later through careful laboratory work, cleaning rock from the bones, we could see that they were from a diplodocid, something unthinkable for South America.”
Mr Gallina’s team says the fossils show that whip-tailed diplodocids roamed South America during the early Cretaceous era, well after scientists thought these kinds of dinosaurs became extinct.
They also suggest that the diplodocid clade, or family group, evolved from other dinosaurs before the Earth’s continents split apart, which is earlier than previously thought.