New Australian-Antarctic dinosaur found in Victoria
A new dinosaur species that lived 125 million years ago has been discovered from a fossil found in Victoria.
The dinosaur, which is thought to have lived in the Australian-Antarctic rift valley was so small it was likely the size of a wallaby, according to researchers from the University of New England in NSW.
Known as Galleonosaurus Dorisae, it is just the second dinosaur of its type to be identified from the 125-million-year-old rock platforms located southeast of Melbourne. Once upon a time, the area was a densely forested valley with a 4000-km chain of volcanoes to the east, researchers say.
But as the Earth’s plates shifted and continents broke apart the environment has long since disappeared.
“This land has now vanished, but as ‘time-travellers’ we get snapshots of this remarkable world via the rocks and fossils exposed along the coast of Victoria,” lead author of the study Dr Matthew Herne said in a statement.
Dr Herne said that the presence of the Galleonosaurus Dorisae in the Victoria region “confirms that on a global scale, the diversity of these small-bodied dinosaurs had been unusually high in the ancient rift valley that once extended between the spreading continents of Australia and Antarctica.”
While small in stature, it’s likely that the Galleonosaurus dorisae — whose name refers to the shape of the dinosaur’s jaw — “would have been agile runners on their powerful hind legs,” Dr. Herne added.
“The jaws of Galleonosaurus dorisae include young to mature individuals — the first time an age range has been identified from the jaws of an Australian dinosaur.”
Prior to finding Galleonosaurus Dorisae, the only other dinosaur found in this area had been Qantassaurus intrepidus. “However, the plethora of vertebrate fossils collected from Flat Rocks suggests that further dinosaurs await discovery,” the study’s abstract reads.
Although Qantassaurus intrepidus was a similarly-sized dinosaur, it fed on different plants, which Dr Herne believes “would have allowed them to coexist.”