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New Giant Herbivorous Dinosaur Species Discovered in Australia

Oct 21, 2016 04:53 AM EDT
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Scientists in Australia were taken by surprise on Thursday when they found bones belonging to a new species of long-necked, herbivorous dinosaur in the north eastern part of the country.

The species belong to a group of dinosaurs popularly known as sauropods. Standing at 45 feet long from head to tail, the species was a barrel-chested, plant-chomping member, and scientists now believe that they made their way to Antarctica almost 105 million years back.

The bones were initially discovered way back by David Elliot, co-founder of Queensland-based Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum in 2005. The hard rock surrounding the bones has been removed to disclose one of the most complete sauropod skeletons in Australia. The journal Scientific Reports was the first to report about the species. The name given to the dinosaur by researchers is Wade, in honor of a famous Australian paleontologist, Dr. Mary Wade.

Elliot had found a tiny toe bone and thought that it was actually a theropod dinosaur as it looked somewhat like a "limb bone."  However, when his wife Judy analyzed the bone and saw that they fitted together, she came to know that it was a single toe of a sauropod and not two varying parts of a theropod toe. With the passage of time, scientists, researchers and the Elliot family excavated fossil fragments worth 17 pallets and found the dinosaur to be in the range of 12 to 15 meters in length. It was in the same time when Elliot found another skeleton of a sauropod that turned out to be the species Diamantinasaurus matildae. However, he was only able to find the skull of the species.

The more information you can derive from a species, the more precisely can you place it on the dinosaur family tree, according to Stephen Poropat, a top paleontologist at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum. When the specimens were compared with the ones found in South America, scientists found that between 100 million years and 105 million years back, an ancestor of the dinosaurs must have made its way from South America to Australia via Antarctica over land.

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