Bus-Sized Dino Comes With a Surprise

It suggests migration from South America, not Asia
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2016 9:10 AM CDT
Bus-Sized Dino Comes With a Surprise
Paleontologist Stephen Poropat with the dinosaur bones.   (Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum)

An Australian sheep farmer has discovered a beast far bigger than he's ever handled—along with new clues as to how dinosaurs ended up Down Under. Paleontologists, together with dinosaur enthusiast/sheep farmer David Elliot, say they've uncovered a new monster of a dinosaur belonging to the titanosaur subgroup of sauropods—long-necked herbivores like brontosaurus—which may have migrated to Australia from South America. Experts previously thought nearly all dinosaurs reached Australia through Asia, reports the Guardian. But one of the most complete sauropod skeletons ever found in Australia—pieced together after Elliot found a toe bone on his Queensland property about a decade ago—says otherwise.

Elliot found fossils from another known sauropod species as well; it and the Savannasaurus elliottorum allowed paleontologists to complete an evolutionary analysis that suggests Australia's sauropods descended from dinosaurs in South America and must've crossed Antarctica during a warm spell 105 million to 100 million years ago, per National Geographic. As for the defining characteristics of the 20-foot-tall, 50-foot-long Savannasaurus, which roamed some 95 million years ago: Stephen Poropat, lead author of the report on the find in Scientific Reports, describes the 20-ton beast as "a long-necked, long-legged hippo" with wide hips, some unusually "paper-thin" bones in its pelvis, and a huge belly. (It also might have cooed.)

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