Climate Change Helped These Giant Dinosaurs Colonize Australia


Concept art of Savannasaurus elliottorum based on the type specimen (“Wade”) and comparisons with titanosaurs from around the world. Image: Travis Tischler / © Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History
Concept art of Savannasaurus elliottorum based on the type specimen (“Wade”) and comparisons with titanosaurs from around the world. Image: Travis Tischler / © Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History
The most massive animals ever known to walk on land were the titanosaurs, a group of long-necked, plant-eating dinosaurs that spread widely across Cretaceous Earth. Some titanosaurs measured over 120 feet from head to tail and are estimated to have weighed around 140,000 pounds, equivalent to a mid-sized commercial airplane. If ever there was an embodiment of the wisdom of eating your vegetables, it was these gargantuan herbivores.

By Becky Ferreira | MOTHERBOARD

Now, research published Thursday in Scientific Reports announces the discovery of two extraordinary Australian titanosaur specimens from the Winton Formation in Queensland. While these aren’t the first titanosaurs found in Australia—indeed, titanosaur remains have been recovered from every continent on Earth—they open a fascinating window into this dinosaur family’s colonization of Australia.

One of the fossilized skeletons represents an entirely new genus and species that has been named Savannasaurus elliottorum (nicknamed “Wade” in honor of the renowned Australian paleontologist Mary Wade, who died in 2005 while the specimens were being excavated).

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