Melbourne Dinosaur Discovery Creates a Lot of Buzz
The coastal town of San Remo, is the unlikely site of a Melbourne dinosaur discovery that has Australian palaeontologists abuzz. Erich Fitzgerald, a palaeontologist from Museum Victoria, studied the fossilized remains of a 2.4 inch wide ankle bone that was discovered in 2006 by an amateur palaeontologist, and determined that it belongs to a ceratosaur. This group of carnivorous dinosaurs has not been recorded from Australia until now, according to the research article that Fitzgerald recently published in the journal ‘Naturwissenschaften’. This is a significant discovery on a continent that is only second to Antarctica when it comes to a poor understanding and documentation of dinosaurs.
Melbourne Dinosaur Thought to Be a Ceratosaur
The ceratosaur fossil fragment points to a flesh-eating species of fairly small stature that barely reached six feet in height and nine feet in length. It does, however, raise the possibility that other larger predatory dinosaurs with global distribution, such as tyrannosaurs and allosaurs, may have lived in Australia at the same time, about 125 million years ago. At that point in time the dinosaur fauna of the continent was nowhere near the weird and wonderful kangaroos and koalas that we see in modern-day Australia. Instead, these carnivorous species had global distributions since they were able to disperse freely before the break-up of the continents. The Australia of 125 million years ago was home to representatives of groups of dinosaurs that have a cosmopolitan distribution, creating a melting pot of diversity.
Melbourne Dinosaur Sheds New Light on Gondwana Dinosaur Distribution
The ceratosaur discovery sheds new light on dinosaur distribution in eastern Gondwana, which separated to form the continents of Australia, India and Antarctica somewhere between 80 and 130 million years ago. Scientists used to believe that Australia’s dinosaur fauna was the product of isolation, but this and other new discoveries confirm that a number of lineages were present – lineages with a Jurassic origin, dating back 170 million years, when dinosaurs were able to cross freely between continents and across the globe.
Isn’t it amazing what can be deduced from a few ancient fragments of bone like those found in this recent Melbourne dinosaur find?