Published: Wed, March 13, 2019
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Dinosaur fossil found in Australia was about the size of a wallaby

Dinosaur fossil found in Australia was about the size of a wallaby

During the Cretaceous period, as the supercontinent Gondwana was slowly drifting apart, an 1,800-mile rift valley stood between Australia and Antarctica.

"These small dinosaurs would have been agile runners on their powerful hind legs", lead author and postdoctoral fellow Matthew Herne of the University of New England in New South Wales said in a statement. This indicates that the newly identified herbivores lived in the forested floodplain that extended between Australia and Antarctica.

As detailed in a new report in the Journal of Paleontology, Galleonosaurus dorisae was a small plant eater that stomped around present-day Australia some 125 million years ago, and it likely used its small stature and impressive legs to duck from the more fearsome predators of the day.

The prehistoric creature was named after the unusual shape of its skull that resembled an overturned hull of a galleon and Dr. Doris Seegets-Villiers, a paleontologist who wrote a thesis on the area where the fossils were unearthed. The dinosaur fossils weren't as large as those of carnivorous dinosaurs from Europe and Americas.

At the season of Galleonosaurus, the residue was shed from a four thousand km long massif of large, effectively ejecting volcanoes that once existed along the eastern edge of the Australian continent.

The rivers carried the volcanic sediments into the valley to form deep sedimentary basins. Over time, they blended with dinosaur bones and fallen bushes. However, Gallenosaurus is estimated to be 12 million years older.

He said, "the jaws of Galleonosaurus and the partial skeleton of Diluvicursor were similarly buried in volcanic sediments on the floor of deep powerful rivers".

"This land has now vanished, however as "time-travelers" we get snapshots of this exceptional world through the rocks and fossils uncovered alongside the coast of Victoria", Herne mentioned.

Researchers from the Dinosaur Dreaming project, which runs out of Monash University and Museum Victory, discovered the dinosaur, which was reportedly smaller than most common ones.

The Galleonosaurus, be that as it may, was much smaller, and named for its upper jaw, which looks like a ship (or a galleon).

The new study reveals that the ornithopods from Victoria are closely related to those from Patagonia in Argentina. Scientists say this discovery is important because it also helps them understand the evolution of dinosaurs in the rift valley, which they believe happened over millions of years. With new technologies, he adds, scientists are able to shine unprecedented light on "the mysterious world of dinosaur ecology-what they ate, how they moved and how they coexisted-and their evolutionary relationships with dinosaurs from other continents".

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