Dinosaur profile: Diamantinasaurus

Dr Ben Kear:

Three significant dinosaur finds have recently been found in Winton, Australia. Bones of two new gigantic sauropods named Diamantinasaurus and Wintonotitan were found at the same site as this new predator Australovenator.

The sheer volume of this material is massive, what have you found? What have you got here?

David Elliott:

We’ve got three dinosaurs here in bits and pieces, well we’ve probably got about five, but three main ones. There’s Matilda, Matilda’s a large sauropod dinosaur, we’ve got Banjo who’s a therapod, they’re in the same pit together so both as carcasses died together for some unknown reason. Wade is another big sauropod, some of these blocks here are vertebrate from Wade. Matilda, Wade and Banjo have a tremendous amount of more material still to prepare, and we are still digging at those sites. So what we see here is what we’ve prepared so far, not what we have actually got.

Dr Ben Kear:

So basically massive limb bones, a giant sauropod, brontosaur like things, thirty to forty metres long, and a carnivorous dinosaur.

David Elliott:

Well this is Matilda. Matilda is a sauropod type specimen of Diamantinasaurus Matildae which means Diamantina River Lizard.

Dr Ben Kear:

What sort of animal would you reconstruct this as being?

David Elliott:

It would probably be an 18-20metre long sauropod, a big long necked four legged fella. Very unusual animal, very robust Matilda was, a very thick heavy sort of animal. When you compare that to another dinosaur next door to where we dug from here which is only about 3km away, the other type specimen which has just been released, Wintonotitan. And Wintonotitan is more like a giraffe you could say, and this is more like a hippo. She would have had a big backside and would have waddled around.

This material is around 95-98 million years old. Where we have our digs is what we call the Winton formation which is this area that goes all the way down to South Australia.

Dr Ben Kear:

What do these bones tell you about the environment? How did these animals die, why are they here?

David Elliott:

It was obviously some sort of flood deposit. Pretty much every dinosaur bone we find has been preserved in mud, that’s the only way they have been preserved, so it’s very fine silt deposits and they have been mud, basically. And the animal would have been either washed in there by flood waters or died on the edge of a bog, or killed near the water or something similar. With Matilda, according to Scottie Hocknull of the Queensland Museum it was probably a billabong and it was either bogged or drown, one of the two.