Home Science Biology Zac the dinosaur calls Australia home


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Australian palaeontologists discover a new species of dinosaur in Queensland, and nickname the 97 million year old sauropod "Zac."

The discovery was made near the town of Eromanga, in the southwestern part of Queensland (west of Charleville), by a team of volunteers and palaeontologists from the Queensland Museum.

The team was examining a sheep and cattle station at the time of discovery. It wasn’t a difficult find for the scientists, as many of the bones of Zac were already sticking out of the ground.

Still, it is estimated that hundreds of other bones from Zac remain hidden under the ground.

The dinosaur is from the Early Cretaceous period (about 142 to 100 million years ago). Other dinosaur discoveries have been also at nearby locations in Australia.

Queensland Museum palaeontologist Scott Hocknull, one of the discoverers, stated, "We have got dinosaurs coming out of all parts of Queensland, and so Australia is really becoming this centre for dinosaur discovery." [BBC News (August 27, 2009): “Australia discovers new dinosaur”]

Besides, Zac, dinosaurs recently discovered in Australia have included Cooper (a new species of titanosaur, discovered in 2004), along with Matilda, Clancy, and Banjo, all discovered earlier in 2009.

Zac, like other sauropods, had a small head, a lengthy neck (sometimes half the length of the entire body), blunt teeth, and a long tail.

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The new species ate plants (that is, they were herbivores), which is probably the reason they had long necks—in order to reach leaves from tall trees.

Additional information is found in the ABC News article “Outback's 'Zac' could be new dinosaur.”

The palaeontologists are now identifying its bones so it can be formally recognized as a new species of dinosaur.

Species within sauropods (meaning: “lizard footed”) first appeared on Earth in the late Triassic Period, and by the Late Jurassic Period (about 150 million years ago) they were striving in most parts of the world (except for Antarctica).

As a group, they are noted for the enormous sizes, with several of the species being some of the largest ever to roam on Earth.

By the Late Cretaceous Period, most species of sauropods had evolved into the titanosaurs, which eventually died out in the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event (about 65 million years ago).

For additional information on sauropods, please read the EnchantedLearning.com article “Sauropods.”


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