While hunting elk in the hills of Montana seven years ago, a man discovered a pile of bones protruding from an outcropping of rock. Upon closer inspection, those bones appeared to be much older than anything hunted by humans. They turned out to be from what looks like a new species of elasmosaurus. This is a sea-dwelling reptile from about seventy million years ago. At the time, much of Montana was an inland sea.
New Species of Ancient Sea Creature Discovered by Accident
Most elasmosaurus fossils have up to 76 vertebrae, mostly in their long necks, reaching up to eighteen feet. Those long necks are believed to have been used to hunt fish in the warm, salty seas of Cretaceous period Montana. This ancient sea creature, however, appears to have only around 40 vertebrae, making the neck much shorter than most others of its kind.
At about seven feet, it would be one of the shortest necked sea-faring dinosaurs. This may quite possibly mean that it is a new, undetermined species that scientists have yet to discover. It also happens to be one of the most complete finds of its kind.
The elk hunter, David Brandt, hoped the bones were from a dinosaur when he discovered them, and he was amazed when he found out it was an ancient sea creature.
“It’s about the size of a cow, and I’m thinking it’s a triceratops,” he said. “I didn’t know there was an ocean there.”