Australia's lost giants

Between 98 and 95 million years ago, the forested floodplains surrounding the inland sea that covered much of Queensland and central Australia were dominated by sauropods. The fossilised remains of these gigantic herbivorous dinosaurs have been found in the rocks underlying the rolling Mitchell grass downs that surround the outback town of Winton, central-western Queensland.

The Winton sauropods include the largest dinosaur yet found on Australian soil ? an animal that has been nicknamed 'Elliot'. Remains of Elliot were first found in 1999 by local grazier and namesake Dave Elliott. 

Elliot the sauropod, Australia's largest dinosaur, approaches a waterhole to drink, accompanied by his mate, Mary. Theropods scurry around his feet, catching insects attracted to huge piles of dung, while on the opposite bank, a few Muttaburrasaurus pause to drink, watched by basking crocodilians. Bones of both these sauropods were recently discovered together at a site near the outback town of Winton, central-western Queensland. © 2001 Laurie Beirne.

Recently, the site where the excavation of Elliot is taking place produced the remains of a second, much smaller sauropod, christened 'Mary' in honour of former Queensland Museum palaeontologist Dr Mary Wade. This is the first time that more than one sauropod skeleton has been found at a single site anywhere in Australia. 

Recent publications 

Salisbury, S. W., Molnar, R. E. & Lamanna, M. C. 2006. A new titanosauriform sauropod from the mid-Cretaceous (Albian-Cenomanian) Winton Formation of central-western Queensland, Australia. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 26 (Supplement to Number 4), 118A.

Molnar, R.E. & Salisbury, S.W. 2005. Observations on Cretaceous sauropods from Australia. 454-465 In Carpenter, K. & Tidwell, V. (eds). Thunder-Lizards: the sauropodomorph dinosaurs. Indiana University Press, Bloomingon, Indiana. 

Salisbury, S. W. 2003a. Clash of the titans: the world's largest dinosaurs. Nature Australia27 (7), 44-51. 

Salisbury, S. W. 2002. A giant awakes. Australian Geographic65, 100-105.