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Scientists discover ancient cemetery of flying reptiles in Chile’s Atacama Desert

SANTIAGO, April 6 — Scientists in Chile say they have unearthed a rare graveyard containing well-preserved bones of ancient flying reptiles that roamed the Andean country’s Atacama Desert more than 100 million years ago.

The remains belong to pterosaurs, scientists determined, flying creatures that lived alongside dinosaurs that had long wingspans and fed by filtering water through long, thin teeth, much like flamingos.

The group of scientists, led by Jhonatan Alarcon, a researcher at the University of Chile, have been searching for pterosaurs for years, but this discovery has exceeded their hopes.

“This is of global relevance because these types of findings are relatively rare,” Alarcon said. “The remains of pterosaurs that have been found are scattered almost everywhere in the world.”

The discovery of this rare graveyard will allow scientists to study the pterosaur’s habits, not just its anatomy, he said.

A pterosaur fossil can be seen on 'Tormento' Hill in the Atacama Desert in the Atacama Region, Chile.
A pterosaur fossil can be seen on ‘Tormento’ Hill in the Atacama Desert in the Atacama Region, Chile.
Reuters

“We could see how groups of these animals were composed, whether they were raising their babies or not,” he added.

Another unexpected surprise was how well preserved the bones discovered by the scientists were.

“Most pterosaur bones that have been found are flattened, broken,” said David Rubilar, director of paleontology at the Chilean Museum of National History. “Nevertheless, we were able to recover preserved three-dimensional bones at this point.”

This helps scientists better understand pterosaur anatomy.

The find was made 65 km (40.39 miles) from another site where other pterosaur remains were found. This discovery supports the scientists’ hypothesis that pterosaurs were once widespread in northern Chile.

https://nypost.com/2022/04/07/scientists-discover-ancient-cemetery-of-flying-reptiles-in-chiles-atacama-desert/ Scientists discover ancient cemetery of flying reptiles in Chile’s Atacama Desert

DUSTIN JONES

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