Outback giants

The dinosaur rush!

Amazing new discoveries in outback Queensland herald a new age for Australian dinosaur hunters, a so-called dinosaur 'rush'. Australia's dinosaur fossil record is poorly known and is considered by overseas palaeontologists to be devoid of new discoveries. Recently, Queensland Museum palaeontologists, along with two outback not-for-profit organisations, have completely overturned this view with the discovery of dinosaur fossils that are not only complete, but some of the best preserved remains in the world. Australia is now no longer a backwater for dinosaurian palaeontology, it is now the last friendly frontier.

An enormous scientific spotlight!

All of the fossil remains being recovered in two key regions of Queensland (Winton and Eromanga) are completely new to science. These remains include the largest bones of any Australian dinosaur so far found and are in the top 10 largest dinosaurs on the planet. Many of the remains are Top Secret and include discoveries that will put Australia’s fossil record under an enormous scientific spotlight. At present lead research, Scott Hocknull (Curator of Geosciences Queensland Museum), considers there to be at least four new species of dinosaurs so far found. These new discoveries require careful preparation, documentation and scientific study. Other equally important discoveries include the smaller animals and plants living at the same time as the dinosaurs, providing a unique snapshot as to what Australia looked like 98 million years ago. Many of these discoveries are the first time such remains have been found on southern continents.

Understanding our past helps to predict and preserve our future.

Between 110-98 million years ago Australia experienced a major period of Global Warming, with sea-surface temperatures increasing by as much as 6°C. This project will look at how the animals and plants of this time have responded to this natural climatic change. Understanding how past climatic changes have influenced a dominant species such as the dinosaurs, will allow humans to better understand our place within nature and how we must adapt to continued climate change (natural and human driven).

Outback Education Revolution

As part of the ongoing community engagement and public education programs of QM Geosciences, this project will forge stronger links between the major regional organisations that are developing best-practice, highly innovative, regional museum attractions. Finally, Australian children will be able to learn about their own Australian natural heritage, why it is here, where has it come from and where will it be... tens, hundreds, millions of years from now.

Funding

Funded by: the Australian Research Council Linkage Grants Scheme (ARC), in collaboration with eight research institutions (Queensland Museum, Latrobe University, Monash University, South Australian Museum, Museum of Victoria, Museum of Natural History (London), University of Adelaide and University of New South Wales) and three (Lightning Ridge Opal and Fossil Centre, Australian Age of Dinosaurs Ltd, and Outback Gondwana Foundation (Cooper-Eromanga Basin Natural History Society)).