Winton's southern hunter

'Banjo' Australovenator wintonensis

Australovenator wintonensis

Image courtesy of Australian Age of Dinosaurs.

A carnivorous theropod, Banjo is the most complete meat-eating dinosaur skeleton yet found in Australia.

Australovenator has been coined as Australia's answer to Velociraptor for its speed, razor-sharp teeth and three large slashing claws on each hand. At approximately 5 metres long, 1.5 metres high at the hip and weighing 500 kg, Australovenator was many times bigger than Velociraptor.

Theropods (meaning beast-footed) are mainly, but not exclusively, carnivorous bipedal (two-footed) dinosaurs. Unlike other theropods like T Rex that have small arms, Australovenator's arms were a primary weapon with the three large slashing claws on each hand.

Banjo can be classified as an allosauroid therapod, sharing many features with primitive allosaurs. It is most closely related to the Japanese Fukiraptor and Neovenator from the Isle of Wight, England.

The discovery of Australovenator has helped solve a 28-year mystery surrounding an ankle bone found in Victoria which was controversially classified as a dwarf Allosaurus. Now that Australia's most complete carnivorous dinosaur skeleton has been found, it can be confirmed that the 1981 bone belonged to the lineage that led to Australovenator.

Banjo is named after the famous Australian poet Banjo Patterson who wrote Waltzing Matilda in Winton in 1885.

Estimated to have lived 100-98 million years ago in the Mid-Cretaceous (Latest Albian) period.

The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History in Winton is custodian of the Banjo fossils. 

Banjo: Australovenator wintonensis skeletal silhouette.

Banjo: Australovenator wintonensis skeletal silhouette.

Image courtesy of Australian Age of Dinosaurs

 

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