Three Levels of Arctic Sea Monster Fossils Revealed

Group picture, from the bottom left; Achim Reisdorf, Jørn Hurum, Stig Larsen, Ole Frederik Roaldset, Bjørn Lund, Øyvind Enger. Top left; Aubrey  Jane Roberts, Charlotte Sletten Bjorå, Lene Liebe Delsett, Victoria Engelschiøn Nash, Christina Ekeheien, Lena Kristiansen og Inghild Økland. Photo courtesy of Victoria Engelschiøn Nash

By Aubrey Jane Roberts and Victoria Engelschiøn Nash

It’s hard to tell that it’s breakfast time, since the sun doesn’t actually set here this time of year, but breakfast time it is. And breakfast has already been inhaled. Some people have made porridge, others prefer biscuits with jam. We have been in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard for a few days now and the excavations of ancient marine reptiles have started. Moral is high, and despite being halfway through the expedition we are not ready to go home just yet.

We are the Spitsbergen Mesozoic Research Group led by NG Emerging Explorer, Professor Jørn Hurum from the Natural History Museum in Oslo. The group consists of volunteers, students and a couple of academics. Since 2004 the group has spent two weeks of August excavating prehistoric marine reptiles in Svalbard. This year we have returned to Flowerdalen (Flower valley) in central Spitsbergen, to excavate the marine reptiles we found during prospecting last August. Our subjects of interest are from the start of the Triassic period, about 250-235 million years ago.

Group picture, bottom row from the left: Achim Reisdorf, Jørn Hurum, Stig Larsen, Ole Frederik Roaldset, Bjørn Lund, Øyvind Enger. Top row from the left: Aubrey Jane Roberts, Charlotte Sletten Bjorå, Lene Liebe Delsett, Victoria Engelschiøn Nash, Christina Ekeheien, Lena Kristiansen og Inghild Økland. (Photo courtesy of Victoria Engelschiøn Nash)

The Oldest Layer

Last year we located several bone beds; this is a layer of rock containing an exceptional amount of bones. We are well on the way to excavating three of these bone beds. The Grippia-level is the oldest of the three, about 245 million years old. Here we found several large pieces of a jaw from a weird reptile called Omphalosaurus, that no one really knows what is. This is master’s student —> Read More

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