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In Images: Graveyard of Ichthyosaur Fossils Found in Chile

Fossil Bonanza

Ichthyosaur fossil

(Image credit: Wolfgang Stinnesbeck)

Dozens of nearly complete fossils of marine reptiles known as ichthyosaurs were found in sedimentary rock near the Tyndall glacier in southern Chile.

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'Fish Lizards'

Ichthyosaur fossil

(Image credit: Wolfgang Stinnesbeck)

Ichthyosaurs, whose Greek name means "fish lizards," were a group of large, fast-swimming marine reptiles that lived during the Mesozoic Era, about 245 to 90 million years ago.

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Well-Preserved Skeletons

Ichthyosaur fossil

(Image credit: Eberhard Frey)

The team found fossils from juveniles as well as adults, with the largest more than 16 feet long (5 meters). The skeletons were extremely well preserved — some even retained soft tissues.

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Muddy Demise

Ichthyosaur fossil

(Image credit: Judith Pardo Perez)

Probably killed during a series of catastrophic mudslides, the creatures were preserved in deep-sea sediments that were later exposed by the melting glacier, the researchers say.

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Tyndall Glacier

Tyndall glacier

(Image credit: Wolfgang Stinnesbeck)

Stinnesbeck and his team found the early Cretaceous (100 to 150 million years old) specimens near the Tyndall Glacier in the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.

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Fossils Emerge

Tyndall glacier

(Image credit: Wolfgang Stinnesbeck)

As the glacier melted, the rock containing the fossils became exposed, Stinnesbeck told Live Science.

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