Finding fossils: An expedition deep into the heart of Chilean Patagonia

Felipe Trueba
Friday 17 April 2020 18:05 BST

The Las Chinas valley near the southern tip of Chile, dubbed the Rosetta Stone of palaeontology in the southern hemisphere, is proving to be a treasure trove of fossils.

Located in this valley, Estancia Cerro Guido is one of the largest estates in the country. While dedicated to cattle farming, its mountains are also home to important dinosaur fossils. Findings here include the well-preserved remains of vertebrates, invertebrates and plants from the Cretaceous period. They could be the key to unlocking significant tracts of the common past of South America and Antarctica.

Every year the Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH) and the University of Chile organise a palaeontological expedition to shed light on the end of the Cretaceous period, when the dinosaurs became extinct. To mark the 10th anniversary of the expedition, a group of 20 researchers from various disciplines embarked on a two-week journey to this region deep in the heart of Chilean Patagonia.

This team, along with another group of palaeontologists, has discovered duck-billed dinosaurs (Hadrosauridae) as well as armoured dinosaurs (Ankylosauria) and even parts of large predators. These complement earlier findings and are allowing scientists to fill in the gaps of what we know about the period.


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