May 09, 2011

Antarctica Fossils Have Arrived!

If you’ve been an intrepid reader of the Burke Blog for a while, you have probably heard of Burke Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology Dr. Christian Sidor and his graduate students’ research trip to Antarctica this winter.  Well, we have an update: some fossils from Antarctica have arrived at the Burke Museum! 

The fossils were discovered during Christian’s most recent research trip to Antarctica in Dec. 2010 – Jan. 2011. All of the fossils date from the Triassic era, ranging from 250—240-million-years-old. The research trip yielded three exciting finds; one is a large amphibian skull, which may be a new species. Another is a Lystrosaurus, a relative to mammals. This find is significant because it provides proof of the continental shift that divided the once existing supercontinent Pangaea. The third find is Prolacerta, an early distant relative to the dinosaurs.

Dr. Christian Sidor in Antarctica

Posted By: Andrea Barber, Communications


Kuei-Ti Lu said...

The findings are exciting! I am especially interested in the possible new species. Will there be more related posts after more research is done?

Samantha said...

Wow. I would love to go to Antarctica on a fossil hunt :) When transporting artifacts from a cold environment to the Burke Museum, do they need to stay temp controlled for a certain time period?


Burke Museum said...

Great question, Samantha! We asked Adam, a UW graduate student who was part of the research team in Antarctica, your question. His response:
"Fossils in other parts of the world go through much worse, with seasonal wetting and drying and warming and cooling which shrinks and grows the fine muddy sediments they might occur in. In Antarctica, these fossils have remained in a dry, cold state for a very long time, with little physical or chemical weathering from the environment or from plants. So a little bit of warming along the journey does little (if anything) to damage the specimens."

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