Crystal Lake’s Prairie Ridge High School graduate and Field
Museum and University of Chicago grad student Nathan Smith has discovered another creature from the time of the dinosaurs.
Smith named this one Glacialisaurus hammeri, after his old professor William Hammer, who taught Smith at Rock Island’s Augustana College and led the trip to the icy continent.
This is the second time Smith has received worldwide recognition.
The first, announced last July in Science, was for discovering a “pre-dinosaur” in New Mexico he called Dromomeron romeri.
Published in this quarter’s Acta Palaeontologica Polonica in an article by Smith and Diego Pol, this Early Jursiac dinosaur is only the second from that age discovered in Antarctica, according to the Field Museum press release.
The press release says,
“A new genus and species dinosaur from the Early Jurassic has been discovered in Antarctica. The massive plant-eating primitive sauropodomorph is called Glacialisaurus hammeri and lived about 190 million years ago.
”The recently published description of the new dinosaur is based on partial foot, leg and ankle bones found on Mt. Kirkpatrick near the Beardmore Glacier in Antarctica at an elevation of more than 13,000 feet.
“’The fossils were painstakingly removed from the ice and rock using jackhammers, rock saws and chisels under extremely difficult conditions over the course of two field seasons,’ said Nathan Smith, a graduate student at The Field Museum. ‘They are important because they help to establish that primitive sauropodomorph dinosaurs were more broadly distributed than previously thought, and that they coexisted with their cousins, the true sauropods.’
Continuing, the release reports,
“Sauropodomorph dinosaurs were the largest animals to ever walk the earth. They were long-necked herbivores and include Diplodocus and Apatosaurus. Their sister group is the theropods, which include Tyrannosaurus, Velociraptor, and modern birds.
”Glacialisaurus hammeri was about 20-25 feet long and weighed about 4-6 tons. It was named after Dr. William Hammer, a professor at Augustana College who led the two field trips to Antarctica that uncovered the fossils. Glacialisaurus belongs to the sauropodomorph family Massopsondylidae, which may represent a secondary radiation of basal sauropodomorphs during the Early Jurassic.
”Currently, the development and evolutionary relationships of the sauropodomorph dinosaurs are hotly debated by paleontologists. This discovery, however, helps to resolve some of this debate by establishing two things. First, it shows that sauropodomorphs were widely distributed in the Early Jurassic—not only in China, South Africa, South America and North America, but also in Antarctica.
“’This was probably due to the fact that major connections between the continents still existed at that time, and because climates were more equitable across latitudes than they are today,’” Smith said.
”Second, the discovery of Glacialisaurus hammeri shows that primitive sauropodomorphs probably coexisted with true sauropods for an extended period of time. The recent discovery of a possible sauropod at roughly the same location in Antarctica lends additional evidence to the theory that the earliest sauropods coexisted with their basal sauropodomorph cousins, including Glacialisaurus hammeri, during the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic, Smith and Pol conclude in their research findings.”
Smith’s co-author Pol is from the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio in Chubut, Argentina.
And the really important question about how the weather in Antarctica compares to Illinois’?
Asked by Chicago Sun-Times reporter Andrew Herrmann, here’s Professor Hammer’s response:
“…the Antarctic cold as ‘a different kind of cold — it’s real dry.’
“Noting Tuesday’s icy wet weather in Illinois, Hammer said, ‘30 degrees and raining here is more miserable than 25 below and dry there.’”
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All images can be enlarged by clicking on them.
In the body of the press release is artist William Stout’s reconstruction of Glacialisaurus hammeri and Antarctica during the Early Jurassic, with several pterosaurs in the background and a small mammal-like reptile in the foreground. The new dinosaur genus and species was described by Nathan Smith, a graduate student at The Field Museum, and Diego Pol, a paleontologist at the Museo Paleontológico in Chubut, Argentina. ©2007 William Stout. Provided by the Field Museum. The Sun-Times rendition was also by artist William Stout. I have replaced its black and white version with the one in color from the Field Museum.
The man in about to attach the hook of the dinosaur block to the helicopter is Peter Braddock.
In the photograph of the three men, Braddock is on the left, Smith in the middle and Kevin Kruger on the right. It appeared on the front page of the Sun-Times. These two pictures came from Discover Channel Canada.
The map and the picture of the bones are from the Field Museum.