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Scientists discover Antarctic marine life trapped under ice for half a century

Scientists have recently uncovered the fossilized remains of a 70-million-year-old elasmosaur in Antarctica, which would have once weighed as much as 15 tons, making it one of the largest of its kind ever found. Fossil hunters are calling the find a real-life Lock Ness monster, as many believe Nessie is a long-necked plesiosaur, such as an elasmosaur. It is now one of the most complete ancient reptile fossils ever discovered.

The iceberg, dubbed A-74, detached about two weeks ago and began to drift through the Weddell Sea. 

As the only research vessel nearby, the research icebreaker Polarstern seized on the opportunity to explore, penetrating the gap between A-74 and the Brunt Ice Shelf.

“Once-in-a-lifetime” photographs captured by the crew revealed an “amazing level of biodiversity and sediment samples taken from the seafloor are “expected to provide more detailed insights into the ecosystem.”

The majority of those creatures were filterers, although the experts also found sea cucumbers, sea stars, mollusks, at least five fish species and two squid species.

AWI noted in the release that the research was essential to better understanding calving events and that it’s rare to be near a region that becomes ice-free and in contact with sunlight — especially for icebergs as large as A-74. 

The team also stationed research buoys in the area in order to gather data about the water’s temperature, salinity and ocean current speeds. 

“This data forms the basis for our simulations of how the ice sheet will respond to climate change. As a result, we can say with a higher degree of certainty how quickly the sea level will rise in the future – and provide the political community and society at large with sound data for making decisions on necessary climate change adaptation measures,” physical oceanographer and AWI expedition head Dr. Hartmut Hellmer said.

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Category: Science

Source: Fox

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