Wednesday, July 26, 2006

 

Scientists discover ancient marine reptiles

A team led by University of Adelaide palaeontologist Dr Benjamin Kear has identified two new species of ancient marine reptiles that swam the shallow waters of an inland sea in Australia 115 million years ago.

Umoonasaurus and Opallionectes belonged to a group of animals called plesiosaurs, long-necked marine reptiles resembling the popular image of the Loch Ness monster, that lived during the time of the dinosaurs.

Dr Kear and his colleagues from the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the South Australian Museum identified the new species based on opalised fossils of 30 individuals found in old collections and recent excavations.

The team's findings were recently published in both the international journal Palaeontology (Abstract), and the online edition of Biology Letters, a periodical published by the prestigious Royal Society of London.

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