A new species of dinosaur discovered in Australia has been confirmed because the largest ever found within the country, and one among the most important within the world.
The fossilized skeleton, nicknamed “Cooper,” was found in southwest Queensland in 2007, at Cooper Creek within the Eromanga Basin. But the skeleton remained a mystery for years and has only now been scientifically described and named by paleontologists.
Researchers at the Eromanga explanation Museum (ENHM) and therefore the Queensland Museum published their findings within the PeerJ scientific journal on Monday.
“Cooper,” whose scientific name is Australotitan cooperensis, is estimated to possess walked the world over 90 million years ago. it had been a titanosaur — a plant-eating species belonging to the family of long-necked sauropods, the most important of the dinosaur species.
The dinosaur is estimated to possess reached a height of 5 to six .5 meters (16.4 to 21.3 feet) at the hip, and a length of 25 to 30 meters (82 to 98.4 feet) — making it as long as a court and as tall as a two-story building, the ENHM said.
With its long neck and tail, it’s going to have resembled the more well-known Brachiosaurus.
Robyn Mackenzie, co-founder of the Eromanga explanation Museum, said the team of paleontologists was ready to quickly establish from the dimensions of the bone fragments that they belonged to an outsized species.
“The pieces were quite big and chunky,” she said. “We were ready to measure the bones and compare them with other species in Australia and therefore the remainder of the planet .”
Several of the massive pieces, including the dinosaur’s shoulder blades, pelvic bones and limbs, were mostly intact. However, researchers faced delays in identifying the species thanks to challenges in managing its large and fragile bones.
The enormous size of the bones meant they were stored in museums often many miles faraway from one another .
So the team used 3D technology to scan each bone of the titanosaur, which allowed them to digitally compare the bones to those of comparable species. The Australotitan was found to be related closely to 3 other Australian sauropods that had been discovered further north within the town of Winton.
The study also points to an open book of further dinosaur discoveries which may be made in Australia.
“The findings have put Australia on the map,” and allowed Australia to hitch other countries making strides in paleontology, Mackenzie said. These sorts of “dinosaur giants” have largely been found in South America thus far — making this discovery all the rarer. “This is simply the tip of the iceberg for discoveries in Australia,” she said. “It has opened an entire new dinosaur frontier.”