100-million-year-old plesiosaur skeleton found in Australia may hold ‘key to future research’

A rare dinosaur fossil has been unearthed in Australia and its discovery could be game-changing.

The Queensland Museum announced this week that the skeleton of a 100-million-year-old ‘long-necked marine reptile’ known as a plesiosaur has been found in western Queensland.

Amateur fossil hunters found the remains at a cattle station in August, according to CNN and The Guardian. It’s the first time a head and associated body have been found in Australia, according to the museum.

Dr Espen Knutsen, senior curator of paleontology at the Queensland Museum, likened the find to that of the Rosetta Stone, which helped experts decode ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, CNN reported.

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“This may hold the key to future research in this area,” Knutsen said in a statement Wednesday, according to the outlet.

100-million-year-old plesiosaur skeleton found in Australia may hold ‘key to future research’

Queensland Museums Network

In a video shared on the Queensland Museum’s YouTube page, Knutsen said that having a “beautifully preserved three-dimensional skull with a body” will allow researchers to do much more “scientifically” than they could have done before.

“The fact that this guy had a body and a head in the same animal is really important for us to be able to understand how many species of these things there were during that time,” he explained in the clip.

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The dinosaur is described by the museum as an “elasmosaurus,” a kind of plesiosaur during the early Cretaceous period. At the time, the area was covered in about 50 feet of water.

100-million-year-old plesiosaur skeleton found in Australia may contain the

100-million-year-old plesiosaur skeleton found in Australia may hold ‘key to future research’

Queensland Museums Network

Knutsen and a team of paleontologists recently traveled to the site “to collect the fossil,” according to the Queensland Museum.

The “beautifully preserved” specimen has a row of teeth in the back of the jaw, although a small part of the snout is missing. Most importantly, however, the head was still attached to the body.

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Knutsen said the fossils will help “teach us much more about the history” of both the sea and the species that once lived there.

The shape of the skull and teeth, for example, will help them determine what kind of food the dinosaur was eating, he shared.

“It’s a beautiful specimen to show to the public, but really important to understanding everything we’re trying to do when it comes to learning about this fauna,” Knutsen explained in the YouTube clip.

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