August 27, 2009
Paleontologists Uncover New Dinosaur In Australia
Paleontologists in Australia have discovered a new species of dinosaur on a sheep farm in the northern state of Queensland.
The fossils are of a large plant-eating sauropod, nicknamed Zac, which roamed the earth about 97 million years ago.
They were discovered in Eromanga, which is a town full of fossils that was once covered by a vast inland area.
According to the scientists, the discovery confirms Australia's importance as a center for dinosaur discovery.
In 2004, the country's largest dinosaur, Cooper, was found resting on the same sheep farm.
Cooper was a 98-foot long, new species of titanosaur, which is an enormous, armor-plated creature.
Scott Hocknull, a Queensland Museum paleontologist, said Zac's skeleton was smaller than Cooper's but more complete.
Zac had a very long neck, like other sauropods, and had a small head with blunt teeth. He also had a long tail that would counter-balance the neck.
Hocknull said the discovery was part of a new "dinosaur rush" in Australia.
"We have got dinosaurs coming out of all parts of Queensland, and so Australia is really becoming this centre for dinosaur discovery."
A lot of Zac's remains were sticking out of the ground, but further excavations showed that this was a dinosaur-rich area.
"There will be hundreds of skeletons underneath the ground. The bone beds are so dense, you can hardly move for a dinosaur bone."
Three more dinosaur bones were uncovered in the same area earlier this year, dating back to the same period Zac did, which was about 100 million years ago in the Early Cretaceous period.