One hundred and fifty million years ago, what is now the Arctic tundra was completely submerged with water, and massive marine reptiles ruled our sparkling, tropical seas. The Earth was warm and lush, and the dinosaurs were apex land predators. Over time, land appeared, and glaciers spread over 60% of Svalbard’s archipelago.
And here in Svalbard, at the top of the world near the North Pole, is a kind of sea monster cemetery. Every year, bones of new predators are exposed by erosion and extreme weather. And countless predators are being unearthed in this remote burial ground – like a strange, flippered dolphin-looking creature (ichthyosaur), something that resembles a sea lion with a snakehead (plesiosaur) and a terrifying fanged giant (pliosaur).
But unlike other Jurassic sites, this fossil treasure trove seems to have bones of predators and few prey. Nowhere else in the world are so many apex sea monsters found in such close proximity to each other.
But why this hole in the food chain? Where are all the fish?
As the pile of predators grows, so do the questions. An ecosystem without prey can’t exist…. So there must be clues somewhere in the Arctic expanse.
Follow the first paleontologists to study fossils of the Jurassic era in the harsh Arctic islands of Svalbard, where polar bears hunt and weather conditions are unforgiving. Their dig site is accessible only by helicopter or boat, and they’re in a race against time, as ice and snow cover Svalbard for most of the year….
Tune into Death of a Sea Monster on Saturday, April 9th at 9 PM et/pt on the National Geographic Channel!