Queensland Dinosaur Dig Unearthing Bones

At the beginning of the month we reported on the annual Australian dinosaur excavations that were opening up once again in Queensland.  As the digs continue to progress, scientists from the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum (Winton), have stated that a number of new dinosaur fossils have been found.  At the start of the dig season, palaeontologists had expressed the wish to discover a new species of Cretaceous dinosaur, given the wealth of material recovered so far it seems that there is a strong possibility that the fossil specimens, once fully prepared might lead to the identification of a new genus of Australian dinosaur.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s earlier article about the annual excavations: Time for Some More Aussie Dinosaurs.

The exposed strata around Winton dates from the Late Cretaceous (98 to 95 million years ago).  During this time, (Late Albian faunal stage of the Lower Cretaceous), Australia was beginning to separate from Antarctica as the super-continent of Gondwana continued to break up, most of the dinosaur’s described from Queensland rocks are unique to Australia, although they are related to other types of dinosaur found elsewhere in the Southern Hemisphere.

Fossil Bone is Carefully Cleaned

An air scribe is used to remove the surrounding rock from the bone.

An air scribe is used to remove the surrounding rock from the bone.

Picture credit: ABC News (Chrissy Arthur)

 Dr Stephen Poropat (Australian Age of Dinosaurs), commented that a number of intriguing specimens had already been found including some large dinosaur bones.

He added:

“We are looking for a sauropod dinosaur, so a long-necked dinosaur with four elephant-like legs and then a long tail – and we know that because we have found some of its back bone and some of its ribs.”

A number of locations are currently being explored, some of them have not been studied and mapped before.   It is hoped that these excavations and the dinosaur discoveries will help to provide a boost to the local economy as tourists visit the area to view Australia’s very own “Jurassic Park”, or to be more correct and with the age of the strata considered it would be more appropriate to refer to this location as “Cretaceous Park”.

The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Executive Chairman, David Elliott explained that the work carried out so far, it had been hard going but some significant finds had been unearthed.

Mr Elliott stated:

“We found one really nice scapula [shoulder bone], like a big shoulder blade and it is beautiful, it is quite a large bone.”

Dinosaur bones had been found at several locations, the Executive Chairman added:

“We’re just starting to really hit on the bones now, we have found this big row of boulders, and we are talking massive boulders, like the size of a ute [utility vehicle].”

Once identified as fossil bearing rock, these large boulders will have to be carefully jacketed and then loaded onto either large pick-up trucks (utes to use the local vernacular), or onto a low loader.  Once safely back at the laboratory, the careful job of preparing and cleaning the fossilised bones can begin.

Volunteers and Scientists Work Together to Explore Another Likely Dig Site

Digging for dinosaurs in the Outback.

Digging for dinosaurs in the Outback.

Picture credit: Australian Age of Dinosaurs

Although, Everything Dinosaur team members have no additional information at this stage and we have not received details of the measurements of any fossil material, but if the fossils are as large as predicted, then the palaeontologists will probably be looking at another sizeable Australian titanosaur, perhaps something in excess of twenty metres in length.  A number of titanosaurs are already known from this part of the world, dinosaurs such as Wintonotitan (W. wattsi), which may have reached a length of around fifteen metres or so when fully grown and the slightly smaller Diamantinasaurus (Diamantinasaurus matildae).  The palaeoenvironment must have been particularly rich and diversified to be able to sustain a number of different types of Titanosaurs within the same habitat.

We look forward to hearing more about these new fossil discoveries from Queensland.

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