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01. Winton Wonders

AMAZING NEW DINOSAUR DISCOVERIES

Three new species of dinosaurs were recently discovered in western Queensland. The scientific description of these amazing creatures was published in July 2009. They are:

  • Banjo - a carnivorous (meat-eating) theropod
  • Matilda and Clancy - giant herbivorous (plant-eating) sauropods

They were excavated from a vast geological deposit near Winton that dates back from 100-95 million years ago (Ma).

The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History and Queensland Museum worked together on this project. They unearthed the greatest concentration of dinosaur bones ever found in Australia to date. Queensland Museum’s geoscientists Dr Scott Hocknull and Dr Alex Cook were involved in the discoveries.

The dinosaurs were nicknamed after characters created by the poet Banjo Paterson who wrote Waltzing Matilda in Winton in 1895.

Banjo

Banjo (Australovenator wintonensis) is the most complete carnivorous dinosaur skeleton found in Australia. This flesh-eating dinosaur was approximately 5m long with three huge sharp claws on each hand. It is claimed to be Australia’s answer to Velociraptor, the terrifying dinosaur brought so chillingly to life by Stephen Spielberg in the film ‘Jurassic Park.

Theropod dinosaur of the Jurassic Period eating a smaller ornithopod

Artist's impression of the head section of Banjo (Australovenator wintonensis).
Artist: T.R. Tischler. Image:  © Australian Age of Dinosaurs.
http://www.australianageofdinosaurs.com/

Fascinating Fact: Velociraptor was only the size of a large bird. For his movie, Spielberg had to invent a human-sized version for his villainous killer. If Australovenator was known back then, Spielberg would have had the perfect dinosaur to use: a fast, ferocious killer; the height of an adult human; with massive hand claws and razor-sharp teeth.

Matilda and Clancy

Matilda and Clancy are the first new sauropods to be named in Australia in over 75 years. These sauropod species are new types of titanosaurs, the largest animals ever to walk the Earth. Dr Hocknull says that Matilda was solid and robust, filling a niche similar to the hippopotamus today. Clancy represented a tall, gracile animal. With its long neck it may have filled a niche similar to the African giraffe.

Matilda (Diamantinasaurus matildae), Clancy (Wintonotitan wattsi), and Banjo (Australovenator wintonensis), showing relative sizes

Matilda (Diamantinasaurus matildae), Clancy (Wintonotitan wattsi), and Banjo (Australovenator wintonensis),
showing relative sizes. Artist: T.R. Tischler. Image: © Australian Age of Dinosaurs.

Related Links

  • Banjo (Australovenator wintonensis)
  • Clancy (Wintonotitan wattsi)
  • Matilda (Diamantinasaurus matildae)