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Dinosaur Bones Found in Australia, One of the Biggest


Dr. Scott Hocknull and Robyn Mackenzie pose with a restructured bone of "Cooper" in Eromanga, Australia. It is a new species of dinosaur discovered and recognized as the largest ever found in Australia. (Eromanga Natural History Museum/Handout via Reuters)
Dinosaur Bones Found in Australia, One of the Biggest
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Scientists say they have discovered a new dinosaur species in a ten year study of bones found in Australia. Their research also found that the animal would have been among the biggest of dinosaurs.

PeerJ - the Journal of Life and Environmental Sciences published the study findings. Scientists from the Eromanga Natural History Museum and the Queensland Museum did the research. The findings come 17 years after farmers found the bones.

The scientists said the dinosaur was a plant-eating sauropod, a kind of dinosaur marked by its large size.

Dr. Hocknull poses with a bone of "Cooper" (Eromanga Natural History Museum/Handout via Reuters)
Dr. Hocknull poses with a bone of "Cooper" (Eromanga Natural History Museum/Handout via Reuters)

The team calls the new species “Cooper,” a shortening of its scientific name. They say it lived during the Cretaceous period, between 92 million and 96 million years ago. At the time, the land now called Australia was attached to Antarctica.

Paleontologists, scientists who study dinosaurs, estimated the four-legged dinosaur reached a height of 5-6.5 meters at the hip. It was 25-30 meters in length. This would make it as long as a basketball playing court and as tall as a usual two-level building.

The species of dinosaur was the largest ever found in Australia. It puts it in the top five in the world. The other top five largest dinosaurs have been found only in South America.

Paleontologists have named the ancient reptile “Australotitan cooperensis.” Australotitan means “southern titan.” Cooperensis comes from the name of a small river in the Eromanga area of Queensland. A local family discovered the bones on their cow farm in 2006.

Dinosaur bones are very large and heavy, but also fragile, or easy to break. It took years to recover the bones.

The team from the Eromanga Natural History Museum and the Queensland Museum studied the bones with a new computer technology. The first users, it helped scientists closely compare Cooper’s bones to those of other dinosaurs.

Research team poses with a bone from "Cooper" (Eromanga Natural History Museum/Handout via Reuters)
Research team poses with a bone from "Cooper" (Eromanga Natural History Museum/Handout via Reuters)

Scott Hocknull works for the Queensland Museum and is a paleontologist. He said, “to make sure Australotitan was a different species, we needed to compare its bones to the bones of other species from Queensland and globally.” He said it was a long and difficult process.

Robyn and Stuart Mackenzie were working on their farm when they first discovered ancient bones in 2004. She then established the Euromanga Natural History Museum to hold the finds.

Other dinosaur skeletons and a possible sauropod travel path have been discovered in the area also. Study is continuing on those finds.

Robyn Mckenzie is now a paleontologist, herself. She said she is expecting many international visitors will come to Euromanga once Australia’s borders reopen.

Scott Hocknull said that sauropods were hunted by big meat-eating dinosaurs. The bones of that kind of dinosaur, are probably in the area, he suggested, adding, “we just haven’t found it yet.”

I’m Gregory Stachel.

Paulina Duran reported this story for Reuters. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

species n. a group of animals or plants that are similar and can produce young animals or plants

hip n. the part of your body between your waist and legs on each side

basketball n. a game in which two teams of five players bounce a ball and try to score points by throwing the ball through one of the raised nets at each end of a rectangular court

titan n. an extremely large and powerful person, company, or animal

museum n. a building in which interesting and valuable things (such as paintings and sculptures or scientific or historical objects) are collected and shown to the public

global adj. involving the entire world

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