The discovery sheds new light on how these dinosaurs migrated from present-day South America to present-day Australia.
It was by chance that David Elliot from Queensland, Australia came across some bones while herding sheep back in 2005. Little did he realise at that point that he had just discovered a new species of plant-eating dinosaur.
The discovery led to identifying the jurassic beast as a part of the sauropod family over 10 years after the bones were found. It would have measured approximately 40ft long, 20 ft high and weighed 22 tons according to a report by the New York Times.
Elliot, who is now the executive chairman of the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum, and his family are the first to find a complete dinosaur of this type prompting thoughts as to how they migrated from South America to Australia back when the land mass was connected. The authors of the study believe they crossed over Antarctica during a more warming period and helps scientists understand what things such as climate were like almost 98 million years ago.
“We get a much better idea of the overall fauna,” stated lead researcher Dr Stephen Poropot. “And as a result we can start piecing together how climate affected these dinosaurs, how the positions of the continent affected those dinosaurs and how they evolved through time as well.”
The new dinosaur has been officially named Savannasaurus elliottorum after the Elliot family.
In addition, the team also found the fossilized bones of another sauropod called Diamantinasaurus matildae – only the second discovered in Australia – which has helped piece together the anatomy that paleontologists had previously found a mystery. Both these finds add more to the story of how the giants evolved and whether they were closely related.
“Anytime you put a name on a dinosaur it’s a hypothesis — and it’s one that’s going to be tested and tested in the future, and we are hoping of course that Savannasaurus will stand the test of time,” Poropat says. “One of the most exciting things about this discovery — and others that have come from Australia in recent years — is we’ve really only scratched the surface as to what’s there,” Lamanna says. “There are entire lost worlds of dinosaurs waiting to be found in Australia.”
Details of the study were published in Nature’s journal Scientific Reports.