UPDATED: June 9, 2021 15:25 IST
A new dinosaur species have been discovered in the Australian outback and is being touted as the largest to ever roam on the continent. The discovery and species categorisation come 15 years after its bones were first found.
The discovery published in the journal PeerJ states that the massive animal is part of the Titanosaur family that roamed on Earth about 100 million years ago. “The new titanosaurian is the largest dinosaur from Australia as represented by the remains and based on limb-size comparisons. It reached a size similar to that of the giant titanosaurians from South America,” the research paper said.
The mammoth body of the dinosaur stood at 5-6.5 metres (16-21 feet) high and measured 25-30 metres (82-98 feet) in length, making it the biggest Australian dinosaur.
The fossilised bones of the dinosaur were first found at a family farm in 2006 in the Eromanga Basin and were nicknamed “Cooper”. Over the years, the Basin has been witness to several other fossilised discoveries, including two large sauropods named George and Zac.
The dinosaur skeleton was first opened for public display in 2007.
“Based on the preserved limb size comparisons, this new titanosaur is estimated to be in the top five largest in the world,” AFP quoted Robyn Mackenzie, a director of the Eromanga Natural History Museum.
The palaeontologists relied on 3D scanning of bones to compare them with a dinosaur of the same family and their relatives. “Using 3-D surface scan models we compare features of the appendicular skeleton that differentiate Australotitan cooperensis,” the research paper led by Scott A Hocknull, a vertebrate palaeontologist said.
“It’s been a long time coming, but we are very proud to showcase Australia’s largest dinosaur species,” Hocknull added.
The 67-tonne animal is estimated to have lived more than 90 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period. With its comparisons matching to that Titanosaurians from South America and Asia, researchers think the animal might have travelled to the Australian countries from these places.