Australia had huge predatory dinosaurs during the late Jurassic
Experts at the University of Queensland are describing evidence of massive carnivorous dinosaurs found in Australia. The team analyzed fossilized footprints in Southern Queensland that date back to the late Jurassic Period between 165 and 151 million years ago.
The analysis revealed that the dinosaurs were about three meters in height and ten meters long. This is comparable to the size of North America’s Tyrannosaurus Rex and South America’s Giganotosaurus.
“I’ve always wondered, where were Australia’s big carnivorous dinosaurs? But I think we’ve found them, right here in Queensland,” said study lead author Dr. Anthony Romilio.
“The specimens of these gigantic dinosaurs were not fossilized bones, which are the sorts of things that are typically housed at museums. Rather, we looked at footprints, which – in Australia – are much more abundant.”
“These tracks were made by dinosaurs walking through the swamp-forests that once occupied much of the landscape of what is now southern Queensland.”
Most of the tracks examined in the study belong to theropods, the same group of dinosaurs that includes Australovenator, Velociraptor, and birds – their modern-day descendants. According to Dr, Romilio, these were clearly not bird tracks.
“Most of these footprints are around 50 to 60 centimeters in length, with some of the really huge tracks measuring nearly 80 centimeters.”
“We estimate these tracks were made by large-bodied carnivorous dinosaurs, some of which were up to three meters high at the hips and probably around 10 meters long.”
“To put that into perspective, T. rex got to about 3.25 meters at the hips and attained lengths of 12 to 13 meters long, but it didn’t appear until 90 million years after our Queensland giants.”
“The Queensland tracks were probably made by giant carnosaurs – the group that includes the Allosaurus. At the time, these were probably some of the largest predatory dinosaurs on the planet.”
Dr. Anthony Romilio said that while this is the first time the fossils have been scientifically described, they were discovered more than half a century ago.
“They were discovered in the ceilings of underground coal mines from Rosewood near Ipswich, and Oakey just north of Toowoomba, back in the 1950s and 1960s,” said Dr. Romilio.
“Most hadn’t been scientifically described, and were left for decades in museum drawers waiting to be re-discovered.”
“Finding these fossils has been our way of tracking down the creatures from Australia’s Jurassic Park.”
The study is published in the journal Historical Biology.