Australotitan cooperensis: New Titanosaur Species Uncovered in Australia
The newly-discovered species of titanosaurian sauropod dinosaur, named Australotitan cooperensis, is the largest species of dinosaur ever found in Australia.
Australotitan cooperensis lived during the Cretaceous period, approximately 92-96 million years ago.
The ancient giant belongs to Titanosauria, a diverse group of sauropod (long-necked plant-eating) dinosaurs.
The group includes species ranging from the largest known terrestrial vertebrates to ‘dwarfs’ no bigger than elephants.
Australotitan cooperensis was between 25-30 m (82-98 feet) long, 5 and 6.5 m (16.4-21.3 feet) high, and had a mass between 23 and 74 tons.
“Australotitan cooperensis adds to the growing list of uniquely Australian dinosaur species discovered in Outback Queensland, and just as importantly showcases a totally new area for dinosaur discovery in Australia,” said Dr. Scott Hocknull, a researcher at the Queensland Museum and the University of Melbourne.
The fossilized skeleton of the new dinosaur was discovered in 2005 in the southern-central Winton Formation of the Eromanga Basin, Australia.
“In the early 2000s, Australia was at the beginning of a dinosaur-rush, with a number of significant new species of dinosaurs and megafauna being discovered in the past 20 years,” said Dr. Jim Thompson, CEO of Queensland Museum Network.
“Australia is one of the last frontiers for dinosaur discovery and Queensland is quickly cementing itself as the paleo-capital of the nation — there is still plenty more to discover.”
The paleontologists found that Australotitan cooperensis was closely related to three other Australian sauropods that lived during the Cretaceous period.
“We compared the three species found to the north, near Winton, to our new Eromanga giant and it looks like Australia’s largest dinosaurs were all part of one big happy family,” Dr. Hocknull said.
“We found that Australotitan cooperensis was the largest in the family, followed by Wintonotitan wattsi with big hips and long legs, whilst the two smaller sauropods, Diamantinasaurus matildae and Savannasaurus elliottorum were shorter in stature and heavily-set.”
The discovery is reported in a paper in the journal Peer J.
S.A. Hocknull et al. 2021. A new giant sauropod, Australotitan cooperensis gen. et sp. nov., from the mid-Cretaceous of Australia. PeerJ 9: e11317; doi: 10.7717/peerj.11317