A new start to the Age of Dinosaurs in Australia

22 October 2021

Ipswich, about 40 kilometres west of Brisbane, seems an unlikely place to find dinosaur fossils. Yet the area has produced the oldest evidence of dinosaurs in Australia.

A fresh look at these fossils reveals they aren’t what they first seemed, and it’s prompting us to reconsider how the story of Australia’s dinosaurs began.

In research published in Historical Biology, we reanalyse a sequence of 220-million-year-old tracks from the Ipswich Coal Measures, thought to have belonged to a carnivorous dinosaur.

We show they actually belonged to an early sauropodomorph — a distant relative of the plant-eating sauropods that roamed the planet much later, during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. This is the first time fossil evidence of basal sauropodomorphs has been recognised in Australia.

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