Dinosaur Enthusiasts are Finding more Dig Sites than Museums can Handle
Those Australian dinosaur buffs are difficult to keep out of the headlines. No sooner do we dedicate January 26th (Australia Day) to celebrating the contribution made to palaeontology by Australian scientist and their dinosaurs from down under then the Australian Associated Press releases a news story about more finds in Queensland.
Dinosaur enthusiasts in the western Queensland town of Winton claim to have found enough potential dinosaur dig sites to keep them and the local museum staff busy until at least 2058.
Cattle farmer, turned dinosaur fan David Elliott says there are thirty sites waiting to be excavated in the local area. Winton is rapidly becoming a hot spot for dinosaur finds in Eastern Australia. A number of important finds have already been documented and excavated from sites such as the nearby Lark Quarry (famous for its trace fossils of dinosaur footprints – the only record of a dinosaur stampede).
We have commented on the importance of the area before, a number of fossil bones have been found, many in association with each other. These represent important clues in helping palaeontologists understand the fauna and flora of this part of Gondwanaland.
To read more about the work going on at Winton: Putting Aussie Dinosaurs on the Map
David Elliott commented; “we are finding sites at the moment at the rate of two to three a year and we are digging sites at the moment at the rate of one every two to three years”.
“So there’s the difference, we are finding faster than we can dig it and we are digging them much much faster than we can display and study them.”
Mr Elliott’s fascination with prehistoric creatures has grown exponentially since he discovered the first fossilised bones on his property Belmont in 1995.
He has since located 16 dinosaur sites on Belmont alone and is working with the Queensland Museum to prepare the bones of two Sauropods excavated on the property in the past few years.
The dinosaurs, nicknamed Wade and Matilda, are unique specimens representing new genera, previously unknown to science.
Work is underway to raise about AUS $20 million needed to establish the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History just outside Winton, north-west of Longreach.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh visited Winton on Friday, inspecting fossils housed on Mr Elliott’s property before contributing AUS $500,000 of government funds towards the museum.
Mr Elliott hopes the museum will aid excavation work and fossil preparations in order to educate more Australians and tourists to the area about the continent’s natural history.
He also wants to see the fossils remain in the outback, injecting new life into the region through tourism.
“Dinosaur bones out here are going to actually do something good for western Queensland, because it’s really a necessity out here to keep the country viable, to keep the town viable,” he said.
“It is the tip of the iceberg and that’s all it is at the moment. It’s going to become quite massive.”
So hats off to those Australians, their dinosaur fauna may be less well known when compared to the western USA or Europe for example but they do seem to be catching up fast.