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WATCH | Intact, pregnant ichthyosaur fossil recovered from Patagonian glacier in Chile

Paleontologists of the GAIA Antarctic Research Center of the University of Magallanes recover the first fossil of a four-meter Ichthyosaur at Tyndall Glacier area in the Chilean Patagonia, Magallanes, Chile April 2, 2022.
Paleontologists of the GAIA Antarctic Research Center of the University of Magallanes recover the first fossil of a four-meter Ichthyosaur at Tyndall Glacier area in the Chilean Patagonia, Magallanes, Chile April 2, 2022.
Image: GAIA Antarctic Research Center University of Magallanes/Handout via REUTERS

Chilean scientists successfully recovered one of the world's most complete ichthyosaur fossils with intact embryos from the Tyndall Glacier in Chile's Patagonia region.

The preserved and pregnant ancient marine reptile was dubbed “Fiona” by scientists. The 4-meter-long fossil will help scientists study embryonic development in ichtyosaurs, which roamed the seas between 90 and 250 million years ago.

The fossil “is the only pregnant ichthyosaur that's been found on the planet from the era between 129 and 139 million years ago,” said Judith Pardo, the scientist who discovered the fossil. “So it's incredibly important.”

Pardo, a paleontologist at the Magallanes University's GAIA Antarctic Research Center, discovered the fossil more than a decade ago, but the site's extreme climate conditions, harsh terrain and remoteness made the extraction a complex logistical challenge.

Scientists spent 31 days extracting the fossil that had to then be helicoptered out of the site. Because the fossil was so complete, paleontologists said they had to extract five blocks weighing 200 kilograms to keep the bones intact.

The fossil is now being prepared for exhibition in the Rio Seco Natural History Museum in southern Chile.

Pardo said scientists also discovered 23 ichthyosaur specimens during the campaign, bringing the total up to almost 100 found in the Tyndall Glacier and making the region one of the most abundant and well-preserved ichthyosaur sites in the planet.

Reuters

The first fossil of a four-meter Ichthyosaur is pictured after recovered by Paleontologists of the GAIA Antarctic Research Center of the University of Magallanes at Tyndall Glacier area in the Chilean Patagonia in Magallanes, Chile, March 23, 2022.
The first fossil of a four-meter Ichthyosaur is pictured after recovered by Paleontologists of the GAIA Antarctic Research Center of the University of Magallanes at Tyndall Glacier area in the Chilean Patagonia in Magallanes, Chile, March 23, 2022.
Image: GAIA Antarctic Research Center University of Magallanes/Handout via REUTERS
Paleontologists of the GAIA Antarctic Research Center of the University of Magallanes recover the first fossil of a four-meter Ichthyosaur at Tyndall Glacier area in the Chilean Patagonia, Magallanes, Chile April 16, 2022.
Paleontologists of the GAIA Antarctic Research Center of the University of Magallanes recover the first fossil of a four-meter Ichthyosaur at Tyndall Glacier area in the Chilean Patagonia, Magallanes, Chile April 16, 2022.
Image: GAIA Antarctic Research Center University of Magallanes
Judith Pardo Perez, paleontologist of the GAIA Antarctic Research Center of the University of Magallanes, poses next to the fossil of a four-meter long Ichthyosaur she recovered from the Tyndall Glacier area in the Chilean Patagonia, Magallanes, Chile March 23, 2022. Picture taken March 23, 2022.
Judith Pardo Perez, paleontologist of the GAIA Antarctic Research Center of the University of Magallanes, poses next to the fossil of a four-meter long Ichthyosaur she recovered from the Tyndall Glacier area in the Chilean Patagonia, Magallanes, Chile March 23, 2022. Picture taken March 23, 2022.
Image: GAIA Antarctic Research Center University of Magallanes/Handout via REUTERS

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