The following are examples of some of the dinosaurs
that we know once lived in Australia.
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
The Hypsilodontid dinosaurs were Ornithopods, and
were quite small, only up to 1 metre in size (about
the size of a present day wallaby). They walked and
ran on their hind legs, with a long neck, and a long
balancing tail. They were herbivores, eating low growing
vegetation such as the ferns and mosses that grew
in the cold climate.
Hypsilodontids had very large eyes and ability to
see in poor light. This would have allowed them to
find food during the long, cold winters.
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.
Minmi lived in the Early Cretaceous Period.
Fossil remains of Minmi are known from central
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.
Muttaburrasaurus lived during the Mid Cretaceous Period.
This dinosaur is known from fossil remains from Muttaburra,
in central Queensland, from the opal fields of Lightning
Ridge in western New South Wales, and possibly from
Coober Pedy in South Australia.
This was a large Theropod dinosaur. It was
about 3 metres tall, and moved about on its
two hind legs. It was a carnivore.
Fossil remains (a leg bone) of Ozraptor are
known from near Geraldton, Western Australia.
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.
Rhoetosaurus lived in the Jurassic Period.
Its fossil remains were discovered near Roma
'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.
Elliot lived in the Late Cretaceous Period,
and was a herbivore. He was about 20 metres
long, about 4 metres high at the hip, and would
have weighed about 25 tonnes. Scientists believe
that it is a type of dinosaur known as Austrosaurus
('Aus- tro- saur- rus').
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.
In particular, footprints found in central Queensland
at Lark Quarry near Winton and along the coastline
north of Broome in Western Australia have provided
scientists with lots of information about they way
in which dinosaurs may have moved and lived that would
have been very difficult to learn about in any other
Some dinosaur species are known only by their footprints,
which have been preserved in ancient mud. The names
of these footprints all end in '-opus', which means
'foot of'. Australia has several dinosaurs known only
from their footprints.
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
It walked and ran on its hind legs. Its footprints
are about 50-70 centimetres long, with three
large toes each with a big sharp claw. These
tracks are similar to those made by other Tyrannosaurus
dinosaurs from North America.
The tracks indicate that the Theropod was about
8 or 9 metres long, with a hip height of about
2.5 metres, and a head height of about 3.5 metres.
It could walk at about 8 or 9 kilometres per
hours, and may have been able to run much faster.
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