An international team of researchers has discovered the remains of dinosaur-era fossils in Antarctica that are between 67 million and 71 million years old. Twelve scientists that traveled to the James Ross Island area from February through March made the discovery.
"We found a lot of really great fossils," said Steve Salisbury of the University of Queensland School of Biological Sciences and a member of the research team. "The rocks the [sic] were focusing on come from the end of the Age of Dinosaurs."
Most of the fossils were discovered through the examination of shallow marine rocks, meaning they are likely ancient ocean-dwelling animals.
"We did find a lot of marine reptile remains, so things like plesiosaurs and mosasaurs - a type of marine lizard made famous by the recent film 'JurassicWorld,'" Salisbury said.
The team also stumbled upon a few dinosaur remains and hope to publish the findings on these fossils at a later date upon further examination. The remains will be shipped to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and results of the study will not likely be ready for another year or two.
It was no small feat to reach the research area, with Salisbury and his team first flying to South Africa and then making their way to the Antarctic peninsula by ship, using helicopters and inflatable boats to reach the shore.
"Crossing the Drake Passage can be kind of rough - some of the biggest seas in the world occur in that area - so most of us just bunkered down for the time we were crossing it," he said. "I've tried to get to Antarctica to do this research several times before, but sea ice has prevented us from making land."
In addition to the unearthing of dinosaur fossils, the new expedition also led to the discovery of new areas that will help lay the foundation for further research in the region.
"We found a lot of new ground to continue the search," Salisbury said. "So, we'd all really love to get back down there at some point soon."
"What we found or didn't find isn't as important as the fact that we were actually there, trying to do it," he added. "If that inspires other people to get into the hunt for fossils, then I'll be very excited."