“Picture the mythical Loch Ness monster and you have a pretty good idea what it looked like.” says science curator and marine expert Patrick Druckenmiller, at the University of Alaska Museum of the North earth.
Alaska is famous for its diverse terrain of wide-open spaces, mountains and forests, and a wide array of wild life species. And now archaeologists have unearthed a dinosaur fossil elasmosaur— a type of plesiosaur – or marine dinosaur. Alaska-based fossil collector named Curvin Metzler made the discovery. The species has very long limbs and necks like paddles, a feature which would have definitely allowed the animal to swim efficiently underwater.
Furthermore museum spokeswoman Theresa Bakker says, “The species lived about 70 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period. The marine reptiles lived during the age of dinosaurs but are not classified as dinosaurs because they did not walk on land or fit other dinosaur criteria.”
Alaskan Archaeologists Find and Identify New Plesiosaur Species
Curvin Metzler, who discovered the elasmosaur fossil, and UAMN earth sciences curator Patrick Druckenmiller examine the spot where bones were found sticking out of the cliff in the Talkeetna Mountains.
Druckenmiller adds, “I was really excited the first time Curvin showed me one of its bones. I recognized it as a vertebra from the base of the animal’s neck and wanted to visit the site to see if we could find more. Based on the size of the bones we excavated, the animal should be at least 25 feet long.”
And he also notes that they found these fossilized remains halfway up a 60-foot cliff.
“We got a good chunk of the animal, but there is still more to excavate,” Druckenmiller goes on to say.
Finally, Metzler adds, “I’m mostly interested in finding invertebrates, so when I saw the first vertebra I knew it was a bone from something,” Metzler said. “I didn’t want to disturb anything in the cliff so it was exciting to talk to Pat [Druckenmiller]. We are lucky to have someone in the state who works with fossils.”