Fossils Found In Australia Belonged To A Wallaby-Sized Dinosaur

Mindy Sparks
March 13, 2019

University of New England (UNE) postdoctoral fellow Matt Herne identified 125 million-year-old fossils as wee dinosaur Galleonosaurus dorisae.

During the Cretaceous period, as the supercontinent Gondwana was slowly drifting apart, an 1,800-mile rift valley stood between Australia and Antarctica.

Kangaroos and wallabies weren't around in Australia 125 million years ago, but small herbivorous dinosaurs that also bounded around on powerful back legs were. This means that they appreciated the forest-covered floodplain of the traditional Australian-Antarctic rift valley tens of millions of years in the past.

Jaw fossils and their 3D cat scan model of the newly-discovered dinosaur Galleonosaurus dorisae.

He said, "the jaws of Galleonosaurus and the partial skeleton of Diluvicursor were similarly buried in volcanic sediments on the floor of deep powerful rivers". A portion of these sediments was conveyed westbound by expansive waterways into the Australian-Antarctic break valley where they shaped profound sedimentary basins.

Scientists say they have discovered a new dinosaur that was about the size of a wallaby. "But as "time-travellers" we get snapshots of this remarkable world via the rocks and fossils exposed along the coast of Victoria". Herne and his team also found Diluvicursor pickeringi, another small ornithopod, in the area in 2018, but Gallenosaurus is 12 million years older. They found five fossilized upper jaws that resembled the upturned hulls of ships called galleons.

The G. dorisae fossils were discovered a decade or so ago by volunteers with the Dinosaur Dreaming project - directed by paleontologists of Museums Victoria and Monash University - who were excavating near the towns of Inverloch and Wonthaggi, according to the statement. The new study, for instance, revealed that Galleonosaurus was closely related to ornithopods from Patagonia in South America, which suggests that a land bridge must have at one time connected South America and Australia, via Antarctica, Herne tells Live Science's Saplakoglu.

Prior to the discovery of Galleonosaurus dorisae, the only other ornithopod known from the Gippsland region was Qantassaurus intrepidus, named in 1999. With new technologies, he adds, scientists are able to shine unprecedented light on "the mysterious world of dinosaur ecology-what they ate, how they moved and how they coexisted-and their evolutionary relationships with dinosaurs from other continents". The researchers imagine this exhibits that dinosaurs have been residing and evolving within the rift valley for a very long time.

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