Australia had 'globe-trotting' dinosaurs: study

May 07, 2012
A Museum Victoria illustration shows a meat-eating dinosaur, known as a ceratosaur, which lived in Australia some 125 million years ago near Melbourne. Scientists say a new fossil discovery suggested Australia's dinosaurs were cosmopolitan globe-trotters, unlike the "unique weirdos" of its current wildlife.

Scientists said Monday a new fossil discovery suggested Australia's dinosaurs were cosmopolitan globe-trotters, unlike the "unique weirdos" of its current wildlife.

Palaeontologist Erich Fitzgerald said an ankle bone fossil found 87 kilometres (54 miles) from Melbourne indicated that meat-eating known as ceratosaurs lived in what is now Australia some 125 million years ago.

He said the finding suggested that back then Australia had the same large, well-known predators such as tyrannosaurs and allosaurs which are found around the world.

"The dinosaurs we see here are not unique weirdos like modern and on a global scale," Fitzgerald told AFP.

"Contrary to the modern animals we see in Australia, these meat-eating dinosaurs in Australia represent globe-trotting groups which spread out across the world before the continents began to separate.

A Museum Victoria illustration shows a meat-eating dinosaur, known as a ceratosaur, which lived in Australia some 125 million years ago near Melbourne. The find suggests that back then Australia had the same large, well-known predators such as tyrannosaurs and allosaurs which are found around the world.

"We've got representatives of groups that are actually found everywhere else. We really have this melting pot... where it was really a cosmopolitan bunch of dinosaurs which called Australia home 125 million years ago."

The ceratosaur was a relatively small, meat-eating dinosaur which grew to be one to two metres high and could be as long as three metres.

The discovery, announced in the journal , adds to the picture about dinosaurs in eastern Gondwana, the continent which broke into Australia, Antarctica and India between 80 and 130 million years ago.

"It had been thought that isolation played a lead role in the formation of Australia's dinosaur fauna," said Fitzgerald, a Museum Victoria palaeontologist.

"But the ceratosaur and other new discoveries show that several dinosaur groups were here. These dinosaur lineages date back to the Jurassic, 170 million years ago, when dinosaurs could walk between any two continents.

"Until now, this group of dinosaurs has been strangely absent from Australia, but now at last we know they were here -- confirming their global distribution."

Fitzgerald added the ankle bone, found near the coastal town of San Remo by an amateur palaeontologist in 2006, was only six centimetres (2.4 inches) wide but was of great significance in understanding dinosaurs in Australia.

"Apart from Antarctica, Australia has the world's most poorly-known dinosaur record," he said, adding that even "tantalising fragments" can end up providing researchers with a wealth of information.

Explore further: More than two dozen articles provide insights on mummies

Related Stories

Plant-eating dinosaur discovered in Antarctica

Dec 19, 2011

For the first time, the presence of large bodied herbivorous dinosaurs in Antarctica has been recorded. Until now, remains of sauropoda - one of the most diverse and geographically widespread species of herbivorous dinosaurs ...

Scientists find first ever southern tyrannosaur dinosaur

Mar 25, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists from Cambridge, London and Melbourne have found the first ever evidence that tyrannosaur dinosaurs existed in the southern continents. They identified a hip bone found at Dinosaur ...

Possible dinosaur burrows clues to survival strategies

Jul 16, 2009

Internationally renowned palaeontologist and Monash University Honorary Research Associate, Dr Anthony Martin has found evidence of a dinosaur burrow along the coast of Victoria, which helps to explain how dinosaurs protected ...

Recommended for you

More than two dozen articles provide insights on mummies

May 22, 2015

In a special issue, The Anatomical Record ventures into the world of human mummified remains. In 26 articles, the anatomy of mummies is exquisitely detailed through cutting edge examination, while they are put in historical, archeo ...

The Bronze Age Egtved Girl was not from Denmark

May 21, 2015

The Bronze Age Egtved Girl came from far away, as revealed by strontium isotope analyses of the girl's teeth. The analyses show that she was born and raised outside Denmark's current borders, and strontium ...

Oldest-known stone tools pre-date Homo

May 20, 2015

Scientists working in the desert badlands of northwestern Kenya have found stone tools dating back 3.3 million years, long before the advent of modern humans, and by far the oldest such artifacts yet discovered. ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.