Australia is renowned for its unique wildlife like kangaroos and koalas. However, Australia was also home to some remarkable prehistoric creatures during the age of dinosaurs. Paleontologists have unearthed the fossils of many dinosaur species that once roamed what is now Australian land. Here are some of the most famous dinosaurs found in Australia.
Australovenator (Australovenator wintonensis): This dinosaur was a large carnivorous theropod, similar to the famous Velociraptor. It lived during the early Cretaceous period, approximately 95 million years ago.
Muttaburrasaurus (Muttaburrasaurus langdoni): Muttaburrasaurus was a herbivorous dinosaur that lived during the early Cretaceous period. It was a large, bipedal dinosaur with a distinctive crest on its head.
Diamantinasaurus (Diamantinasaurus matildae): Diamantinasaurus was a large, long-necked herbivorous dinosaur known as a sauropod. It lived during the mid-Cretaceous period, around 95 million years ago.
Leaellynasaura (Leaellynasaura amicagraphica): This dinosaur was a small, herbivorous dinosaur that lived during the early Cretaceous period. It is notable for its large eyes, which suggest that it may have been active during the polar night.
Minmi (Minmi paravertebra): Minmi was an armored dinosaur known as an ankylosaur. It lived during the early Cretaceous period and was characterized by its heavily armored body.
Cryolophosaurus: Informally known as “Elvisaurus,” after the single, ear-to-ear crest across its forehead, Cryolophosaurus is the largest meat-eating dinosaur yet identified from Jurassic Antarctica (which isn’t saying much, since it was only the second dinosaur ever to be discovered on the southern continent, after Antarctopelta). Insight into the lifestyle of this cold-crested lizard will have to await future fossil discoveries, though it’s a sure bet that its colorful crest was a sexually selected characteristic meant to attract females during mating season.
Austrosaurus: (“southern lizard”) is a sauropod dinosaur that lived in the Early Cretaceous period of Australia. It could grow to 50-60 feet (15.24 meters) in length. Fossil finds suggest a height of approximately 3.9 meters at the hip and 4.1 meters at the shoulder, which would have given it an almost level back. According to Gregory S. Paul, it was 20 meters long and weighed about 16, 000 kg.
Ozraptor: The name Ozraptor is only partially accurate: Although this small dinosaur did live in Australia, it wasn’t technically a raptor, like the North American Deinonychus or the Asian Velociraptor, but a type of theropod known as an abelisaur (after the South American Abelisaurus). Known by only a single tibia, Ozraptor is slightly more respectable in the paleontology community than the putative, still unnamed Australian tyrannosaur.
Australia’s prehistoric past comes to life through the discovery of these remarkable dinosaur species. Continued paleontological excavation will surely add many more unfamiliar ‘terrible lizards’ to our understanding of life millions of years ago on this unique continent.