Australian Dinosaur Story
Examples of Australian dinosaurs
The following are examples of some of the dinosaurs that we know once lived in Australia.
This is the group of dinosaurs that lived in southern Australia in the Cretaceous
Period. While Hypsilodontids have been found world wide, scientists have
discovered a richness of species in southern Victoria. Being close to the
South Pole, the climate there was quite cold, with long dark winters when
there was no sunlight. Hypsilodontids may have exploited the near polar
conditions better than other species. Fossils of about twelve species of
Hypsilodonts have been found along the south coast of Victoria, including
sites near Cape Otway.
Minmi was an 'Ankylosaur' (a dinosaur covered with bony armour plates
for protection from predators). It was about 2 metres long, about a metre
tall, and walked on four legs. It was a herbivore.
This was a large Ornithopod dinosaur. It walked about on all four feet,
although it is believed it could run or rear back to eat on its hind legs.
It was about 7 or 8 metres tall and was a herbivore, with a big beak and
razor sharp teeth for shearing tough vegetation.
This was a large Theropod dinosaur. It was about 3 metres tall, and moved
about on its two hind legs. It was a carnivore.
This was a huge Sauropod dinosaur. It is one of the very few Sauropods
to have been found in Australia. It had a huge body, a long tail, and
a long neck with a small head. Altogether it was about 12 metres long.
'Elliot' the Sauropod
This is the informal name for a giant Sauropod that was discovered in
1999 near Winton in Queensland. The first bones found were part of a thigh
bone and some pieces of vertebrae (back bones). Excavation of the site
is still continuing.
Lark Quarry dinosaurs
Although dinosaur fossils are generally rare in Australia compared to
some other places in the world, we do have some of the world's best preserved
and most abundant dinosaur trackways.
The term Skartopus refers to the footprints made by a small Theropod dinosaur that lived in the Late Cretaceous Period. This Theropod belonged to a group of dinosaurs called 'Coelurosaurs'. They were small carnivores, and may have eaten insects, frogs and small reptiles. The tracks that they left are about the size of tracks made by common chickens, so scientists have calculated that they would have been about 20 centimetres high at the hip. They also walked and ran on their hind legs, and would have used their speed to hunt and to escape from predators.
Tyrannosauropus footprints at Lark Quarry were left by a very large Theropod
dinosaur that lived in the Late Cretaceous. It was a carnivore, and may
have hunted and eaten smaller dinosaurs and other reptiles. It would have
had sharp pointed teeth, and claws on its small front legs.
The Wintonopus footprints left at Lark Quarry are from an Ornithopod dinosaur that lived in the Late Cretaceous Period. It was quite a small dinosaur, varying from about the size of a chicken to the size of an emu. It moved around on its rear legs much as present day birds do. The tracks left behind at Lark Quarry in central Queensland show that this Ornithopod lived in herds, and could run quite fast to escape from predators.