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Meet the massive Australotitan, the South Titan – the largest dinosaur in Australia!


Australotitan Cooperensis, “Cooper̵

7;s Southern Titan”. Credit: Vlad Konstantinov, Scott Hocknell © Eromanga Museum of Natural History

It’s time to meet Australotic correspondence, a new species of giant sauropods from Eromanga in southwestern Queensland. Australotitan, “Cooper’s Southern Titan,” named after the site, has been scientifically described by paleontologists and staff at the Queensland Museum and the Eromanga Museum of Natural History.

The petrified skeleton was originally nicknamed “Cooper” after the nearby Cooper Creek, where it was first discovered by Mackenzie property owners and excavated with the Queensland Museum in 2007. Finding the Cooper changed the life of the Mackenzie family and led to its creation. of the Eromanga Museum of Natural History.

Sandy Mackenzie Excavating Dinosaur Bone

Sandy Mackenzie (left) with her parents Stewart and Robin Mackenzie dig up Cooper’s femur during the 2007 dinosaur excavation. Credit: Gary Kranic

Team Digs dinosaur bones

The team has been digging up Cooper’s pelvis at the dinosaur mine since 2007. Credit: Robin Mackenzie

Australotitan belonged to a group of dinosaurs known as titanosaurs, which were the last surviving group of long-necked sauropods, and the largest known land-dwelling animals ever existed. Australotitan it is now the largest known dinosaur species in Australia, making it the largest land animal to ever walk in the province of Queensland and is in the top 10 to 15 largest dinosaurs in the world. It is believed to have reached a height of 5 to 6.5 meters in the thigh and a length of 25 to 30 meters – as much as a basketball court! It may have weighed somewhere between 23 and 74 tons, equivalent to 1,400 red kangaroos!

Cooper's femur

The Cooper Copper Team at the 2007 Dinosaur Cop Credit: Robin Mackenzie

The study found that all four sauropod dinosaurs, which lived in Australia at the same time (96 to 92 million years ago), are more closely related than other dinosaurs found elsewhere. To check Australotitan is a different species, its’ bones must be compared to the bones of other species in Queensland and worldwide. Not an easy task when dealing with fragile and very heavy bones, which are stored in museums at a distance of 100 to 1000 kilometers from each other.

For the first time, the team used new digital technology to capture each bone in 3-D and compare it to the bones of its closest relatives. Many of these digital “cybertypes” will be part of the museum’s digital collection in Queensland, powered by Project DIG, a partnership between the Queensland Museum Network and BHP.

Scott Hocknell with the fossil dinosaur Humerus

Dr. Scott Hocknell with the Cooper fossil humerus (right) and a three-dimensional printed reconstruction (left). Credit: Rochelle Lawrence

The process of digital photography has also led to some remarkable discoveries. Several of Cooper’s bones have been found to have been crushed by the footsteps of other sauropod dinosaurs. This can be seen in the trampled area of ​​sauropods discovered during the Cooper excavations. The team discovered a rock shelf, almost 100 meters long, representing a sauropod trail. The imprints of the sauropods are preserved, trampling the mud and even the bones of another smaller sauropod in the soft earth. This work forms compelling research on dinosaur fossils around Queensland.

Sauropod Trample Zone

The trampled zone of sauropods discovered during the Cooper excavations in 2007. Credit: Dr. Scott Hoknull

The scientific publication marks the seventeenth anniversary of the joint effort between the Queensland Museum and the paleontologists of the Eromanga Museum of Natural History, geologists, fossils and, most importantly, volunteers. Australotitan adds to the growing list of unique Australian dinosaur species found in the province of Queensland, and just as importantly introduces a whole new dinosaur discovery area in Australia.

Cooper Museum of Natural History Humerus Eromanga

From left to right, Tanya, Rochelle and Natalia prepare the Cooper’s fossil shoulder at the Eromanga Museum of Natural History. Credit: Dr. Scott Hocknell.

Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes dinosaur discoveries in Queensland!

Project DIG is a partnership between the Queensland Museum and BHP that will scan our collections and digitize our research for people around the world.

Australotitan cooperensis Konstantinov

Australotitan Cooperensis to the dinosaur burial site in 2021 Credit: Vlad Konstantinov, Dr. Scott Hocknell © Eromanga Museum of Natural History

Written by Rochelle Lawrence, Senior Research Fellow, and Scott Hocknell, Senior Curator, Geosciences, Queensland Museum.

Reference: “A new giant sauropod, Australothian coorensis gene. and others. new, from the middle of the Cretaceous of Australia ”by Scott A. Hocknell, Melville Wilkinson, Rochelle A. Lawrence, Vladislav Konstantinov, Stuart Mackenzie and Robin Mackenzie, 7 June 2021 PeerJ.
DOI: 10.7717 / peerj.11317

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