Wallaby-Size Dinosaur Discovered in Australia (Crikey!)

Rodiano Bonacci
Marzo 12, 2019

Paleontologists in Australia have found fossil fragments from a new genus and species of ornithopod dinosaur that walked the Earth during the Early Cretaceous epoch.

"These small dinosaurs would have been agile runners on their powerful hind legs", lead study author Matthew Herne, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of New England, said in a statement.

"Small ornithopods appear to have thrived on the vast forested floodplain within the ancient rift valley". Herne says this "confirms that on a global scale, the diversity of these small-bodied dinosaurs had been unusually high in the ancient rift valley that once extended between the spreading continents of Australia and Antarctica". The newly-named, dinosaur wallaby-sized herbivorous dinosaur, was identified from five fossilized upper jaws in 125-million-year-old rocks from the Cretaceous period of Victoria, southeastern Australia. That rift valley would have provided ample resources for the tiny dinosaurs while also giving them protection from larger predators. "The canopy trees would have been families that are still present in Australia and South America-conifers related to Bunya pines, Monkey Puzzles and Huon pines". But traces of some of the species that once lived there have been preserved, thanks to miles of once-active volcanoes along the rift. The researchers believe the volcanic debris originated much farther east from where the bones were discovered, and was carried west by rivers, causing the bones and volcanic material to mix before eventually settling and hardening over more than 100 million years.

Fossils and 3D CT model of the newly named dinosaur Galleonosaurus dorisae. The wallaby-sized herbivorous dinosaur has been identified from five fossilized upper jaws in 125-million-year-old rocks from the Cretaceous period of Victoria southeastern Aust
New wallaby-like dinosaur found in Victoria

By looking at fossils from these basins, experts can also get a better sense of how prehistoric creatures were moving across the globe.

The new finding suggests, "land connections (land bridges) between Australia and South America, via Antarctica, must have been available to dinosaur groups at times during the Cretaceous that resulted in closer genetic links between the dinosaurs on these continents than between these dinosaurs and those in other places", he wrote in an email to Live Science. With new technologies, he adds, scientists are able to shine unprecedented light on "the mysterious world of dinosaur ecology-what they ate, how they moved and how they coexisted-and their evolutionary relationships with dinosaurs from other continents".

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