Back in 2006, two locals were assembling their cattle on their property close to Eromanga in the south-western part of Queensland when they found very significant dinosaur bones. And now, 15 years after Robyn and Stuart Mackenzie made the discovery, the Eromanga Natural History Museum has officially announced that the skeleton belonged to the largest dinosaur that ever roamed Australia and is one of the biggest in the entire world.
The dinosaur, which has been named, “Australotitan cooperensis”, is nicknamed “Cooper” because it was found close to the Cooper Creek. This new gigantic sauropod species is said to be one of the top 15 biggest dinosaurs in the world. This long-necked dinosaur lived between 92 and 96 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period.
It measured between 5 and 6.5 meters in height (16.4 to 21.3 feet) and between 25 and 30 meters long (82 to 98.4 feet). Additionally, the researchers estimated that it would have weighed between 50 and 70 tonnes. Now that’s massive!
Mrs. Mackenzie, who is a palaeontologist that runs the Eromanga Museum, stated that when she found the first bones belonging to the dinosaur, she had no idea how significant they were, “It wouldn’t have entered our mind that we were about to deal with an animal that was the largest in Australia and one of the largest in the world.”
Dr. Scott Hocknull, who is a vertebrate palaeontologist at the Queensland Museum, described the exceptionally long work they did to finally be able to properly identify this large dinosaur, “It’s taken this long because it’s such a painstaking piece of work, you’ve got to take the bones out of the ground, you’ve got to prepare the fossils, and then you’ve got to study them and compare them against all other species of dinosaurs worldwide,” adding, “This is huge, this is a fantastic beast. Imagine something the size of a basketball court walking around on land.”
Mrs. Mackenzie is optimistic that more significant discoveries like “Cooper” are just waiting to be made. “There’s dozens of sites, there’s dozens of dinosaurs potentially out there that will need preparation and then research after they’ve been dug up,” she noted.
Dr. Hocknull went a step further by saying that there are potentially even larger dinosaurs waiting to be unearthed, “One of the questions that I’m always asking is what ate the plant eaters?” “We know that Australotitan — or Cooper — was a plant eater, so what was marauding around trying to eat these guys? We don’t have any evidence of that just yet.” “That’s exciting because it means that there must be another big story out there.” The study was published in PeerJ where it can be read in full.
Pictures of the bones and images of what “Cooper” would have looked like can be seen here.