Six bones, including an 8-inch (20-centimeter) nail, found in the 1
The discovery, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, involves two teeth, i. two claws, an ankle bone and a neck bone, belonging to a group of dinosaurs of theropods – those that include– known as megaraptorides. The find adds to the hundreds of fossils found in Eric the Red West (ERTW), a area southwest of Melbourne, Australia, but is particularly exciting because of the similarity to a species known as Australovenator wintonensis .
"All of these bones, other than the vertebrae, can be compared to Australovenator wintonensis and all look very similar," says Stephen Poropat, paleontologist at Swinburne University and the first author of the study.
The striking resemblance is a puzzle for researchers because Australovenator wintonensis was discovered in Queensland, a region thousands of miles north of the ERTW. These bones are dated 95 million years ago, which means that there are 10 million years between the two fossil finds.
"We may have found bones of older individuals by an Australoanator," says Poropat, "but this is more likely to be of a different kind.
"To have a dinosaur of more than 10 million years would be exceptional, but not impossible."
Perhaps the most striking find is the astounding 8 Poropat explains the unique shape – the one you are probably familiar with if you have ever seen Jurassic Park – it is mostly identical to the megaraptorid nails found in other regions, including the megaraptor, a theropod discovered in Argentina with a nearly 13-inch nail.
With only fragments of the fossil currently available, it has not yet received an official name or identifier. The Red West Eric, however, has discovered several star fossils in the past and Poropat hopes more theropod bones will be in the future. Another expedition to the site will happen in November.
"All the deposits are representative of deep, fairly fast-flowing rivers, so we don't expect to find a whole skeleton of a land animal, but we may be lucky," he says.