By Rocío Otoya
Sydney, Australia, Sep 2 (EFE).- The wanderings of dinosaurs in Antarctica millions of years ago reveal a fascinating connection between Australia and Patagonia, the southernmost region of South America.
The link is manifested in a collection of fossils that shed light on their similarities and the presence of plants that have endured far from their original habitats.
The intriguing connection unfolded when Australia, South America, Antarctica, Africa, India, Arabia, Madagascar, and New Zealand formed the colossal supercontinent known as Gondwana.
Gondwana began to break apart and gradually drifted some 180 million years ago during the Jurassic period.
Scott Hocknull, a Paleontologist at the Queensland Museum, told EFE that the Antarctic land bridge, once covered in forests, enabled “dinosaurs that roamed Argentina to have relatives in Australia and vice versa.”
Despite the geological and climatic challenges that make finding fossil remains in Australia difficult compared to the fossil-rich Patagonia region, which encompasses alluvial plains and lakes shared by Chile and Argentina, the evidence from both places tells “an amazing story of life before the continents separated,” Hocknull said.
The prehistoric connections between Australia and Patagonia represent the oldest evidence of dinosaurs in these regions, dating back to the Late Triassic period — from 237 million to 201 million years ago.
In addition to the fossil evidence, there are living witnesses: plants like the Araucaria conifers that once thrived in Patagonia and Australia when they formed part of the Gondwana supercontinent.
According to Florencia Gigena of the Paleontological Museum Egidio Feruglio (MEF), many of these plants, spores, and pollen traveled with the dinosaurs as they wandered between Australia and Patagonia.
Gigena explained that there are records of plants or fossils of organisms that are no longer found in South America today but coexist in contemporary Australia and vice versa.
The Queensland Museum is hosting the “Dinosaurs of Patagonia” exhibition, which runs until October 2.
The exhibition features replicas of 13 dinosaurs, notably “Patagotitan mayorum,” a prehistoric creature weighing 57 tons, equivalent to the weight of nine elephants.
With 38 meters long and 8 meters tall, the creature holds the distinction of being the largest animal to walk the Earth.
Having previously traveled to the United Kingdom, the exhibition will soon go to New Zealand.
It offers insights into the diverse habitats where dinosaurs once thrived, their ability to adapt, and their evolutionary relationships. EFE