The skeleton of a mysterious ‘spooky’ dinosaur called a ‘skeleton dragon’ has been found in the frozen depths of Antarctica, a study has revealed.
The fossil, a composite of vertebrae and bone, is the oldest known fossil of the dinosaur and belongs to the group of early-surviving ‘tardigrades’ that includes the now extinct ‘shark’ or ‘turtle-like’ creature.
It has been named after a fictional character, Jasper Stone, who was killed by a mysterious killer.
The dinosaur, named ‘Skeletal Dragon’, is one of two specimens of the group that are thought to be extinct.
It lived in a small group of ‘tards’, smaller than the modern day turtle-like creature known as a ‘shrimp’ or a ‘pigeon’.
This group of tardigrade fossils dates back to about 140 million years ago.
It is believed that the dinosaur was in trouble, as it was caught in a snow storm in the South Atlantic, and the rest of its group were killed off by a ferocious storm.
But this was a different kind of storm, the researchers say.’
The snowstorm was really a freak occurrence that was quite unexpected, so we were very surprised when the ‘sketch’ dinosaur came in,’ said lead author of the study, Dr Robert J. Smith, of the US Geological Survey’s Geology Division.
The skeleton was found in Antarctica in 2014 by researchers from the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen.
It was part of a collection of fossilised bones from a small collection of the ‘tarsiers’ from the Late Cretaceous period (145 to 66 million years old), including a few fossilised skeletons of a turtle.’
This specimen was probably part of the Tarsiers, because it has a complete skeleton and a complete head,’ Dr Smith said.’
But we are not sure why this particular individual was selected for study.”
This is the first complete skeleton of this group of dinosaurs from the late Cretassic and early Jurassic Period in Antarctica, which is very interesting because it is the earliest known dinosaur fossil found in Antarctic waters.’
Dr Smith said the skeleton was a ‘very interesting’ find.’
There are a lot of questions to be answered about the origins of these fossils,’ he said.
It may have lived in Antarctica for some time, he said, and ‘the first thing to learn’ is ‘what it ate’.’
There is evidence that this group may have been very well adapted to living in the deep, but also adapted to being killed by other animals,’ he added.’
We are trying to understand the diet of this skeleton dragon.’