Fossils Discovered in Australian Outback Likely to Be From Species of Dinosaur Previously Unknown to Science

On Tuesday, a team of Australian paleontologists discovered the remains of what they suspect to be a brand-new species of herbivorous dinosaur buried in western Queensland. The paleontologists estimated that the remains are 95 million years old, which dates to the Cretaceous period.

"Most things found in Australia in terms of dinosaurs have a very good chance of being new to science because of the nature of how we've been separated from Gondwana and South America for so long," Robyn Mackenzie, director and paleontologist of the Eromanga Natural History Museum, told Australia's 9 News. Gondwana was an ancient supercontinent that comprised present-day India, Africa, Arabia, Australia, Antarctica, Madagascar, and South America, according to Britannica.

"It's very's most probably going to be the nation's youngest dinosaur," Mackenzie added.

The remains that have been recovered so far primarily consist of vertebrae, the bony components of the spine. However, Mackenzie's team is optimistic about their chances of finding additional sections of the skeleton because they have only dug a meter (about 3.3 feet) down so far. Completing the dig could take three to five years, according to 9 News.

Based on preliminary observations of the bones, the team believed that the dinosaur was likely a sauropod, which Mackenzie defined as "a large plant-eating dinosaur." Distinguished by their long necks, small heads, and stocky legs, sauropods remain the biggest animals to ever walk the earth, according to Britannica.

The remains were discovered at a site that Mackenzie's son and daughter-in-law located in 2018.

Eromanga has yielded a large number of prehistoric relics. Local excavation sites are "some of the richest dinosaur fields in Australia," Mackenzie said. In 2007, paleontologists found the remains of a 30-meter-long and 6.5-meter-tall titanosaur at one, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Nicknamed "Cooper," the remains are on display at the Eromanga Natural History Museum.

"Over the past 17 years, many sites have been found. Slowly, each year, we go through each site," Mackenzie said. "Because soils of the right age are exposed, we've actually found the dinosaur bones on top of the soil. That's the key to finding more bones beneath the ground."

A French paleontology student inspects a fossil.
A French paleontology student inspects a fossil discovered in 2019. The Australian outback town of Eromanga has yielded many such fossils in recent years. GEORGES GOBET/Getty Images