Australia had 'globe-trotting' dinosaurs - study
AUSTRALIA: Scientists said Monday a new fossil discovery
suggested Australia's dinosaurs were cosmopolitan globe-trotters, unlike
the "unique weirdos" of its current wildlife. Palaeontologist Erich
Fitzgerald said an ankle bone fossil found 87 kilometres (54 miles) from
Melbourne indicated that meat-eating dinosaurs known as ceratosaurs
lived in what is now Australia some 125 million years ago.
He said the finding suggested that back then Australia had the same
large, well-known predators such as tyrannosaurs and allosaurs which are
found around the world.
"The dinosaurs we see here are not unique weirdos like modern koalas
and kangaroos on a global scale," Fitzgerald told AFP.
"Contrary to the modern animals we see in Australia, these
meat-eating dinosaurs in Australia represent globe-trotting groups which
spread out across the world before the continents began to separate.
"We've got representatives of groups that are actually found
everywhere else. We really have this melting pot... where it was really
a cosmopolitan bunch of dinosaurs which called Australia home 125
million years ago." The ceratosaur was a relatively small, meat-eating
dinosaur which grew to be one to two metres high and could be as long as
The discovery, announced in the journal Naturwissenschaften, adds to
the picture about dinosaurs in eastern Gondwana, the continent which
broke into Australia, Antarctica and India between 80 and 130 million
"It had been thought that isolation played a lead role in the
formation of Australia's dinosaur fauna," said Fitzgerald, a Museum
Victoria palaeontologist. "But the ceratosaur and other new discoveries
show that several dinosaur groups were here. These dinosaur lineages
date back to the Jurassic, 170 million years ago, when dinosaurs could
walk between any two continents."Until now, this group of dinosaurs has
been strangely absent from Australia, but now at last we know they were
here -- confirming their global distribution."