A huge dinosaur whose fossils were discovered in Australia in 2006 has been positively identified as a specimen of a new species, called Australotitan coprensis, one of the largest animals that ever lived on Earth.
This dinosaur belongs to the titanosaur group that lived nearly 100 million years ago. Specimens of this group of long-necked dinosaurs and herbivores are found on every continent.
It is estimated to be 5 to 6.5 meters high and 25 to 30 meters long.
“If comparisons of organ size are anything to go by, this new titanosaur is among the world’s top five,” said Robin Mackenzie of the Eromanga Museum of Natural History in Queensland (northeast).
The fossilized bones were discovered in 2006 on a family farm about 1,000 kilometers west of Brisbane in the Eromanga Basin, and the “cooper” skeleton is named after a river in that state.
The discovery was initially kept a secret as investigators patiently worked on the excavations. The skeleton was first shown to the public in 2007.
Confirmation that Cooper was a new species was the result of a “very long and tedious process”, Scott Hocknall, a paleontologist at the Queensland Museum, explained.
The investigation, which included 3-D comparisons of Cooper’s bones with those of his relatives, was published Monday in Scientific journal PeerJ المجلة.
Many other dinosaur bones have been found in the same area, Hocknoll said, adding that more digging is needed. “Discoveries like this are just the tip of the iceberg.”, He said.
The largest dinosaur known to date is the Mayor Patagotitan “Patagonic Titan”, discovered in Argentina in 2017
Paleontologists have estimated that it could weigh about 70 tons, the equivalent of about 10 African elephants, and be about 37 meters long and eight meters high.