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‘Nearly complete’ dinosaur skull discovered in Australia

‘Nearly complete’ dinosaur skull discovered in Australia

A team of paleontologists from Curtin University recently examined Australia’s first complete sauropod dinosaur skull discovered in Queensland. These analyzes allow a better understanding of the fauna and support the idea that there was a land point between Australia and South America about 100 million years ago. Details of the study are published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

Incomplete taxa

Titanosaur sauropods are a group of large herbivorous dinosaurs characterized by long necks, long tails, massive bodies, and columnar limbs. These animals lived mainly in the Cretaceous 145-66 million years oldSome species may have lived in the Late Jurassic period, slightly earlier.

Titanosaurs were distributed throughout the world. They are also known to be one of the last sauropod groups to exist before the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous, about 66 million years ago. However, despite the variety and abundance of these dinosaurs, Some taxa are represented by multiple skeletons, not to mention skulls. In other words, a species is usually characterized by a few bones.

Diamondosaurus matildae, which lived in Australia in the present-day state of Queensland at the beginning of the Upper Cretaceous, was one of these animals. This sauropod, which measured About fifteen meters long At around twenty tons, only three specimens with incomplete skeletons have been described so far. As part of this new study, paleontologists describe a fourth specimen, this time Full skullIncluding several previously unknown cranial organs for this taxon.

Similarities with Argentinian cousin

The bones of the new specimen, nicknamed Ann, were discovered in 2018 at Eldersley Station near Winton. As part of their work, the researchers took CT scans of the model’s skull. The latter is fifty centimeters long. Although the right side is mostly missing, it retains most of the left side of the head.

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Reconstruction of a dinosaur skull. Credit: Propat, S et al. (2023)

Their study reveals startling similarities to another species known as this dinosaur Sarmientosaurus mascacchio, originally not from Australia, but from Argentina. These include very small conical teeth. The researchers also found similarities in the structure of the bones of the skull and the back of the head.

Remarkable similarities between skull morphology Diamondosaurus matildae And Sarmientosaurus muscacchioi And these two species may have existed closely related. Both dinosaurs are known to have existed at the same time between 95 and 100 million years ago. If so, the study will reinforce the idea already presented Now a land bridge between Australia and South AmericaIt was joined at the time by Antarctica thanks to warmer conditions.