Scientists have confirmed the discovery in Australia of a new species of dinosaur, one of the largest ever found in the world, more than a decade after ranchers first discovered the animal’s bones.
96 million years ago when Australia joined Antarctica, paleontologists estimated the dinosaur reached a waist height of 5-6.5 meters and a length of 25-30 meters, making it as long as a basketball and as high as a two-story building, according to research published Monday.
This makes the new species the largest dinosaur ever found in Australia and places it in the top 5 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 paleontologist Scott Hocknull.
Paleontologists have named the sauropod “Australotitan cooperensis,” which combines “southern titan” with the name of a creek near the place where the creature’s first bones were found in 2006 on a ranch in Eromanga, Queensland.
The confirmation of the new species by the scientists marks a seventeen-year journey to first compare the bones of “Cooper”, as the dinosaur is more informally called, with other finds and then compare them with other finds.
Dinosaur bones are huge, heavy, and fragile, and are kept in museums around the world, making scientific study difficult.
The team at the Eromanga Museum of Natural History and the Queensland Museum used new digital technology for the first time to 3D compare each bone to scan.”To make sure that australotitanium was a different species, we had to compare its bones to those of other species in Queensland and around the world,” said Hocknull. “It was a very long and painstaking task.
Robyn Mackenzie, who tended cattle with her.” Husband Stuart set up the Eromanga Museum of Natural History on his property when the bones were discovered to house the find.
“Paleo tourism has been enormous worldwide, so we expect great international interest when our borders are reopened,” said Mackenzie, now a field paleontologist.
Hocknull said that even larger dinosaur specimens are waiting to be discovered. since herbivorous sauropods were generally hunted by giant theropods. “We found a few small theropod dinosaurs in Australia … but it wouldn’t have bothered Australotitan, which suggests that there is a very large predatory dinosaur somewhere. We just haven’t found him yet.