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Wed Jun 27, 2012, 04:34 AM

Chilean Scientist Discovers Fossil Antarctic Bird Prints

Chilean Scientist Discovers Fossil Antarctic Bird Prints
By Sophie Bauer on June 26, 2012.

PUERTO WILLIAMS — In the depths of the remote, polar King George Island, the young Chilean scientist, Héctor Mansilla, has discovered the fossil prints of birds resembling thrushes and ducks. The fossils are 48 million years old and date back to when Antarctica was still joined to Patagonia.

According to an article published in the journal ‘Antarctic Science’, this is the first recording of its kind to be made in Antarctica. Mansilla’s investigations have shed new light on a part of the world which, millions of years ago, resembled the swampy coastline of the Magallanes or the forests of the Chilean Lake District.

Additionally, the discovery of these fossil prints has enabled a more complete knowledge of the various species of birds which used to inhabit this isolated part of the world.

Since 2009, Mansilla has been working alongside Professor Marcelo Leppe, a palaeontologist at the Chilean Antarctic Institute. He travelled to King George Island to participate in Leppe’s project exploring the connections between Patagonia and Antarctica. It was on the island’s ‘Cerro Fósil’ that the unearthing of over sixty fossil prints was made.


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