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New Dinosaur Species Discovered In Australia

Dr. Scott Hocknull and Robyn Mackenzie pose with a 3D reconstruction and the humerus bone of “Cooper,” a new species of dinosaur discovered in Queensland and recognised as the largest ever found in Australia, in this undated handout image made available to Reuters on June 8, 2021 in Eromanga, Australia. Eromanga Natural History Museum/Handout via REUTERSREUTERS

 

Scientists have confirmed the discovery of a new dinosaur species in Australia, one of the largest found in the world, more than a decade after cattle farmers first uncovered bones of the animal.

The plant-eating sauropod lived in the Cretaceous period between 92 million and 96 million years ago when Australia was attached to Antartica, according to a research paper

Paleontologists estimated the dinosaur reached a height of 5-6.5 metres at the hip and 25-30 metres in length, making it as long as a basketball court and as tall as a two storey building.

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That makes the new species the largest dinosaur ever found in Australia and puts it in the top five in the world, joining an elite group of titanosaurs previously only discovered in South America.

“Discoveries like this are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Queensland Museum curator and palaeontologist Scott Hocknull.

Paleontologists have named the sauropod “Australotitan cooperensis”, combining “southern titan” with the name of a creek near where the first of the creature’s bones were found in 2006 on a cattle farming property in Eromanga in Queensland state.

The confirmation of the new species marks a seventeen-year-long journey to first unearth and then compare the bones of “Cooper”, as the dinosaur is more informally known, to other finds.

Dinosaur bones are enormous, heavy and fragile, and are kept in museums around the world, making scientific study difficult.

The team from the Eromanga Natural History Museum and the Queensland Museum used new digital technology for the first time to 3-D scan each bone for comparisons.

“To make sure Australotitan was a different species, we needed to compare its bones to the bones of other species from Queensland and globally,” Hocknull said. “This was a very long and painstaking task.”

Robyn Mackenzie, who was mustering cattle with her husband Stuart on their property when they discovered the bones, founded the Eromanga Natural History Museum to house the find.

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Written by PH

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