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Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Scientists Stumble upon Dinosaur Fossils in Antarctica

Frozen dinosaurs

(Photo : University of Queensland) Prehistoric fossils discovered in Antarctica

A multinational research team in Antarctica accidentally discovered a large trove of dinosaur fossils and those of other animals that once lived in tropical climes during the Cretaceous Period some 66 million years ago. Some of the fossils are thought to be 70 million years old.

Unearthed at the James Ross Island by a team of 12 scientists from the U.S., South Africa and Australia were fossils of dinosaurs, marine reptiles and ocean-dwelling animals.

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"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,'" said Steve Salisbury, of the University of Queensland School of Biological Sciences. "We found a lot of really great fossils."

Unearthing dinosaur fossils in the freezing landscape of Antarctica isn't surprising when one looks back at the early Earth. Some 170 million years ago, Antarctica had a tropical climate when it was part of the supercontinent called Gondwana.

It was heavily forested and harbored a multitude of ancient life forms. Antarctica turned arctic cold 25 million years ago when Gondwana splintered into the continents that exist today.

Salisbury believes the discovery of this fossil haul lays the groundwork for future expeditions.

"We found a lot of new ground to continue the search," he noted. "So, we'd all really love to get back down there at some point soon."

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