With thanks to CSIRO Science by Email. Scientists have discovered a new Australian dinosaur, and it’s a big one! Several giant bones, some over one metre long, were uncovered near the town of Winton in central Queensland. But what’s got scientists all worked up isn’t what it looks like: it’s where it came from.
Scientists have named the new dinosaur Savannasaurus elliottorum. It was a big, four-legged plant eater, and looked a bit like a brontosaurus. Savannasaurus was as tall as a giraffe, but much heavier.
Fossils from big plant-eating dinosaurs can be found in many places around the world. Some are up to 150 million years old! Several different species are found in Australia, but they only date back to 100 million years ago. Scientists think that these Australian dinos, including Savannasaurus, might be recent arrivals from another continent. Their best guess is that Savannasaurus came from South America.
So how did Savannasaurus get to Australia? They probably walked! During the time of the dinosaurs, the world was a very different place. South America and Australia were both much closer to Antarctica. And that means there may have been dry land linking the three continents.
The world of the dinosaurs was also a lot warmer than today. Antarctica was covered in trees, not ice. Up to around 100 million years ago, it was still pretty cold, but then global warming kicked in. A warmer world might have allowed Savannasaurus to migrate to Australia, along with other large dinosaurs.
We still have plenty to learn from Savannasaurus. We don’t know how far it spread, or how long it lived until it became extinct. Even the story of how it got here is just a best guess. But it’s pretty cool imagining Australia 100 million years ago, filled with giant dinosaurs!