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Dinosaur Bones Confirm Australia's Newest Prehistoric Animal Species

The bones are said to be 100 million years old.

27/07/2017 2:56 PM AEST | Updated 27/07/2017 2:56 PM AEST
Stephen Poropat
Being one of the oldest of its kind makes this dinosaur pretty significant. 

A new Australian dinosaur has been officially confirmed as its own unique and distinct species.

The Austrosaurus Mckillopi becomes one of only 20 Australian dinosaurs with an official name, as new research published in the Alcheringa Journal Of Paleontology confirms the animal's existence. In the paper, the dinosaur is described as "one of the oldest known sauropods from the Australian Cretaceous based on skeletal remains."

Being one of the oldest of its kind makes this dinosaur pretty significant.

Stephen Poropat is a professor of palaeontology at Swinburne University and together with Tim Holland, and Richmond mayor John Wharton, he worked to find out more details of the dinosaur's existence.

The team found six ribs from the Austrosaurus Mckillopi on digs between 2014 and 2015 on the Clutha sheep station, north west of Richmond in Queensland. These findings, combined with the discovery of a backbone belonging to the same dinosaur at the same site in the 1930s, meant there was enough evidence to confirm the animal was in fact part of its own species.

Peter and Richard Wade
In 1933, the original discoverers of the dinosaur Austrosaurus erected a sign to mark the site.

"Even though we only found six ribs and a few chunks of vertebrate fragments it was somehow a little bit more exciting knowing the history of the site, knowing we were finding more of a specimen that had already been found," Dr Poropat told The Brisbane Times.

The bones are said to be 100 million years old. According to Poropat, the Austrosaurus Mckillopi would have been 15-metre-long herbivore, with four legs.

"Think an elephant's body in size and shape but with a small head, long neck and a long tail," Poropat told The Australian.

Stephen Poropat
The 2015 Austrosaurus dig site being excavated.

The Austrosaurus Mckillopi, and other sauropods like it, roamed the earth from 200 million to 66 million years ago. The discovery at Clutha sheep station is the only one known of its kind.

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