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03. Scott Hocknull - Dinosaur Man

SCOTT'S RECENT PROJECTS

DINOSAUR DISCOVERIES

In July 2009, Scott Hocknull and Alex Cook from Queensland Museum, together with Matt White, Travis Tischler, Naomi Calleja, Trish Sloan and David Elliott from the Australian Age of Dinosaurs published a paper online in PLoS ONE, Open Access, Volume 4, Issue 7. The title is New Mid-Cretaceous (Latest Albian) Dinosaurs from Winton, Queensland, Australia.

This paper documents the identification and naming of the three new dinosaur species discussed in the Winton Wonders section of this web resource:

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

Amongst the large sauropod dinosaur bones excavated in western Queensland, are the fragmentary remains of much smaller dinosaurs and animals that you might recognise today.

To find out more about these fascinating specimens follow the link below.

In the footsteps of Giants

RESPONSES TO PAST CLIMATE CHANGE

In October 2007, Scott Hocknull and colleagues Jian-xin Zhao, Yue-xing Feng, and Gregory E. Webb published a paper on the Responses of Quaternary rainforest vertebrates to climate change in Australia. This paper is available online at www.sciencedirect.com, and is in Earth and Planetary Science Letters 264, (2007) 317 – 331. In this paper, the effects of past climate change on some Australian species are examined.

Many habitats today are under threat from climate change and human disturbance. This affects the biogeography and evolution of species and may lead to their eventual extinction. Understanding these effects is necessary so conservation strategies can be developed to protect species under threat. This is especially important in Australia. Here intensified aridity (dryness) has shaped large portions of the continent and tropical rainforests are especially vulnerable.

It is important for a sustainable future to be able to tease apart the natural and human influences on climate change and its impact on our animals and plants. We need a detailed knowledge of how environments have responded to past global climate change to predict how environments will respond to climate change in the future.

Past Climate Change

The last 100 million years have been marked by at least four or five major cooling events. This has resulted in an overall cooling of the ocean-bottom waters of approximately 8˚C. Each cooling event has been relatively colder than the previous one.

How has this affected Australia?

Because we have such a flat continent with relatively few mountain glaciers and are isolated from large ice sheets, Australia has simply become drier over this time period.

Over the last few million years, the climate has changed dramatically. The climate used to cycle from warm to cold and wet to dry every 41,000 years. From about 900,000 years ago, the Earth changed to cycles that last 100,000 years. On top of this, the extremes of climate are much greater than in the past. So, it is not the peaks and troughs that are so important, but the overall trend to increased extremes and longer episodes of each.