Diving for Dinosaurs
As far as we know dinosaurs were purely terrestrial animals, they lived on land, with no species adapting to a fully marine lifestyle. However, there are dinosaurs to be found at the bottom of the Atlantic, not just those specimens that remain encased in sediments out of our reach but also there are a number of duck-billed dinosaurs to be found about 400 miles North west of the Azores.
Before the USA was drawn into the First World War, dinosaur expeditions were still being funded and there were many excavations taking place in the Western USA and Canada. British scientists looked on enviously, especially as many UK based museums had received a number of high quality fossils in the early part of the 20th Century.
The American fossil hunter Charles H Sternberg had collected a huge number of Cretaceous animal fossils in the area of Alberta now known as Dinosaur Provincial Park. The haul included a number of Hadrosaur fossils, rare turtles and Champosaurs (a type of crocodile). Many of these finds were destined for England as it had been agreed that they would be put on display in London.
The fossils were loaded onto the steamship Mount Temple. The year was 1916 and the Great War in Europe had been waging for two years. Whilst on its way to England, the Mount Temple was intercepted by a German ship, the SMS Oldenberg. After firing on the Mount Temple and forcing it to stop the German crew boarded the Canadian merchantman and planted explosives on the hull. The ship was scuttled and its precious 75-million-year-old cargo was sent to the bottom of the sea.
There it remains to this day. Ironically, there is some debate as to what was in the cargo destined for London. A number of Hadrosaur (duck-billed dinosaurs) remains including a complete skull and some fossilised skin impressions are believed to have been on board. It has been suggested that they belonged to Corythosaurus, although some of the remains may also have been of another hollow-crested Hadrosaur called Parasaurolophus.
So dinosaurs were also victims of the First World War. Ambitious plans were drawn up in 2005 to dive the wreck of the Mount Temple, but nothing came of this as the initial cost estimates (£ millions), put off investors. However, check out our range of prehistoric animal models for slightly more accessible dinosaur models.
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