Buenos Aires Times

argentina SAN JUAN PROVINCE

Scientists unearth 220 million-year-old 'cemetery of dinosaur fossils'

Site is between one and two metres in diameter and about the same depth, leading scientists to speculate it was a former drinking hole at a time of great drought, and the creatures died of weakness at the spot.

Thursday 18 April, 2019
Handout photo released by the Institute and Museum of Natural Sciences (IMCN) of San Juan University, shows researcher Ricardo Martínez sitting next to a 220-million-year-old fossil at the Ischigualasto National Park on April 8, 2019.
Handout photo released by the Institute and Museum of Natural Sciences (IMCN) of San Juan University, shows researcher Ricardo Martínez sitting next to a 220-million-year-old fossil at the Ischigualasto National Park on April 8, 2019. Foto:HO / IMCN / AFP

A site containing the 220-million-year-old fossilised remains of nearly a dozen dinosaurs has been discovered in San Juan province, researchers announced Wednesday. 

"It's a block, an accumulation of bones. There are almost 10 different individuals, it's a mass of bones, there's practically no sediment. It's as if they made a well and filled it with bones" said University of San Juan paleontologist Ricardo Martínez. "It's very impressive."

According to Martínez, of the Institute and Museum of Natural Sciences of the University of San Juan (IMCN), the fossils are approximately 220 million years old, belonging to "an era of which we know little."

They were found at the Ischigualasto National Park.

"This discovery is doubly important because there are at least seven or eight individuals of dicynodonts, the ancestors of mammals, the size of an ox," he said.

He said there were also remains of archosaurs, reptiles that could be the ancestors of great crocodiles "that we do not know about yet."

The find was discovered in September last year in San Juan province, about 1,100 kilometres west of the capital, revealed Cecilia Apaldetti, a fellow IMCN researcher associated with the the National Council of Science and Technology (CONICET). It has become to be known casually as a type of cemetery, or "bed of bones," given the accumulation of remains clustered in one area.

The site is between one and two metres in diameter and about the same depth, leading scientists to speculate it was a former drinking hole at a time of great drought, and the creatures died of weakness at the spot.

Argentina has been a rich source of fossils from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous eras over the years.

- TIMES/AFP

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