Joint US and Australian Team excavate Rich Fossil Beds in Queensland
The small town of Winton in the centre of Queensland has become the focus for an international team of palaeontologists as they try to unearth secrets of Australia’s prehistoric past.
Researchers from the University of Queensland and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, USA are hoping that the extremely rich Mesozoic fossil beds will shed new light on the relationship between Australia’s Dinosaur fauna and the rest of the world.
The team are currently excavating a series of bone beds close to the town of Winton on the Australian route 66. The town’s only other claim to fame is that the song “Waltzing Matilda” is believed to have originated there.
The joint US and Aussie team headed by Dr Steve Salisbury (University of Queensland) and Dr Matt Lamanna (Carnegie) are hoping that their work will help palaeontologists understand the evolution of dinosaurs on the southern landmass of Gondwana, of which Australia was part during the Mesozoic.
Australian dinosaur fauna is little known when compared to the evidence amassed about dinosaurs in Europe, the Americas and Asia. Many scientists see the Australian fauna as an unusual blend of ancient genera long extinct elsewhere in the world and other types of dinosaur more commonly associated with the Northern Hemisphere.
For example, evidence has been uncovered previously that indicated that Allosaurs (large bipedal meat-eaters) survived in Australia into the Cretaceous whilst elsewhere in the world this particular family of dinosaurs died out.
As well as finding some new species the scientists are hoping to uncover evidence of animals moving between the landmasses that comprised Gondwana, with the expectation that some of the dinosaur groups associated with South America may also have been present in Australia.
According to Drs Salisbury and Lamanna, the great wealth of fossil material at the Winton site should help them piece together the story of Australia’s prehistoric animals.
Digging Up Australia’s Prehistoric Past
Dr Salisbury (left) assisted by a student carefully excavating dinosaur bones.
Picture credit: University of Queensland
This joint US and Australian research is funded in part by an Australian Research Council grant, and is being conducted in collaboration with the Isisford Shire Council.
Story sourced from: University of Queensland (09/11/07) – “Digging for Dinosaurs in Outback Australia”.