australia dinosaur fossils

Australia’s Limited Fossil Record Gets Boost With Discovery of 3 New Dinosaurs

July 08, 2009 07:00 AM
by Haley A. Lovett
The fossils of two plant eaters and one carnivore found in Queensland, Australia, are the first large dinosaur fossils to be unearthed in almost 30 years.

Meat-Eating Dinosaur Is “Australia’s answer to Velociraptor”

During a joint excavation between the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum and the Queensland Museum, archeologists unearthed three new species of dinosaur that are nearly 100 million years old, Michael Perry of Reuters reports.

According to a press release from the Queensland government, the three fossils were nicknamed “Banjo,” “Matilda” and “Clancy” after characters created by local poet Banjo Paterson.

Banjo, the carnivore—also known as an Australovenator wintonensis—is the first large predator to be found in Australia. The plant eaters add to the small collection of long-necked dinosaur fossils previously found.

Background: Australia's record of dinosaur fossils

Until this discovery, ancient fossils have not often been found in Australia. Although dinosaur fossils have been found on every continent in the world, Perry describes the record of fossils in Australia as “extremely poor” in comparison to North and South America, and Africa. Recently, China has also become a hotspot for dinosaur fossils.

Historical Context: The "Bone Wars"

In the 19th century, American paleontologists E.D. Cope and O.C. Marsh started a rivalry that would later be called the “Bone Wars.” According to the Academy of Natural Sciences, the two were in a heated competition to discover new dinosaur species. So brutal was the rivalry that often the quality of work during excavation and assembly of the fossils was compromised, and many dinosaur remains may have been ruined as a result.

Although some areas in the United States are now famous for the discovery of mammal and vertebrate fossils (such as the La Brea Tar Pits), ancient dinosaur fossils are not that common in the U.S. Some paleontologists think that a relatively new site in Utah may lead to more exciting ancient dinosaur finds in the U.S.

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