New research suggests that dinosaurs were world travelers
New research published in Scientific Reports this week suggests that some members of the dinosaur family may have made an epic journey about 100 million years ago.
These intrepid explorers traveled from South America and crossed over Antarctica to Australia during a warm spell, which would have allowed passage over previously frozen land.
Two recent fossil discoveries in Australia have added evidence to this theory. Both specimens are sauropods from the titanosaurs group, very large herbivorous dinosaurs with small heads and long necks.
Dr. Stephen Poropot of the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum said, “As a result [of this discovery] we can start piecing together how climate affected these dinosaurs, how the positions of the continents affected those dinosaurs and how they evolved through time as well.”
One of the dinosaurs has been named Savannasaurus elliottorum, after members of the family who found the fossil near Winton in Central West Queensland. The skeleton was encased in rock and took 10 years to extract.
The team also uncovered head bones from another sauropod. “This new Diamantinasaurus specimen has helped to fill several gaps in our knowledge of this dinosaur’s skeletal anatomy,” said Dr Poropat.
These specimens show that titanosaurs were living intercontinentally 100 million years ago.
Climate change revealed additional land on and between the continents, making travel possible.
“We suspect that the ancestor of Savannasaurus was from South America, but that it could not and did not enter Australia until approximately 105 million years ago,” he said.”At this time global average temperatures increased, allowing sauropods to traverse landmasses at polar latitudes.”