Huge new dinosaur from Australian outback unveiled
New titanosaur species among the largest dinosaurs that ever lived
Bones discovered in Australia 15 years ago belong to the largest dinosaur ever found in the country, Australian officials announced Monday.
Queensland Museum's Scott Hocknull said he estimates the dinosaur, named Cooper, was nearly 30 metres long, or as long as a basketball court, and weighed more than 54 tonnes. Paleontologists estimate the dinosaur was as tall as a two-storey building. That makes it the largest dinosaur ever found in Australia, also placing it among the top five largest dinosaurs in the world.
"I equate it to something like 1,400 red kangaroos, something ridiculous like that, huge, huge animal," he said.
The new species was a sauropod dinosaur, a long-necked plant-eater with a long tail that walked on all fours. Titanosaurs, like Cooper, were a group that included the largest sauropods.
Tourists gathered in Eromanga to see the dinosaur bones on display at the museum.
Hocknull said it is the first time researchers can verify that Cooper, short for Australotitan Cooperensis (meaning "the southern titan"), is in fact Australia's largest dinosaur.
He said the research is a long process of preparing the fossils and comparing them to other species of dinosaurs from around the world.
The bones were found by Robyn Mackenzie and her husband, Stuart, while they were mustering cattle on their property near the southwestern Queensland state town of Eromanga in 2006. They were exposed as younger soil had been gradually weathered away.
"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, so that was not even in our thinking," she said.
The dinosaur lived between 92 million and 96 million years ago, when Australia was attached to Antarctica, according to a research paper published on Monday.