New Dinosaurs

According to a BBC News report, paleontologists in Australia have found fossil remains of three previously unknown species of dinosaurs that date back to the Early Cretaceous period, about 100 million years ago.  The fossile were found in a rocky area called the Wilton Formation in Queensland, in northeastern Australia.  Two of the species found were large herbivores:

The two plant-eating, four-legged sauropod species are new types of titanosaurs – the largest animals ever to walk the Earth.

“Clancy” (scientific name: Witonotitan wattsi) was a tall slender animal, while Matilda (Diamantinasaurus matildae) was more stocky and hippo-like.

The third species, nicknamed “Banjo” after the composer of “Waltzing Matilda”, was a predator, smaller but apparently fleet of foot:

The carnivore, which has the scientific classification Australovenator wintonensis, has therefore been dubbed “Banjo” after Banjo Patterson, who composed the song in Winton in 1885.

Queensland Museum palaeontologist Scott Hucknell said the creature would have been a terrifying prospect.

“The cheetah of his time, Banjo was light and agile. He could run down most prey with ease over open ground,” he told reporters.

This discovery, which is discussed in a paper published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS One, is potentially quite interesting because of the light it may shed on the prevalence of large dinosaurs in what is now Australia, especially since the number of dinosaur fossils found in Australia has been small compared to the numbers found in other regions.

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