Dinosaur museum makes record breaking discovery
This grand old dinosaur is expected to become Australia's most complete sauropod skeleton.
For the past three weeks The Australian Age of Dinosaurs (AAOD) Museum has been digging at the site, on a property north-east of Winton, recovering numerous bones including several teeth, possible skull fragments and at least 10 cervical (neck) vertebrae interconnected in life position.
Dr Stephen Poropat, a research scientist with Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne and Research Associate of the AAOD Museum said in a Facebook post on the AAOD Museum page, even with the site only partially excavated, it is expected the dinosaur nicknamed Judy will become the most complete sauropod ever found in Australia.
"The previous record holder, the Jurassic-aged Rhoetosaurus brownei from Roma, is represented by about 25% of a skeleton," said Dr Poropat.
At approximately 12m long, Judy is one of the smaller sauropod specimens found in the Winton Formation to date, Dr Poropat said.
"This animal appears not to have been fully mature when it died, since neither of the shoulder girdles are fused as is common in older animals.
"The neck of this sauropod is at least 65% complete and is in life position. Sauropod cervical vertebrae are relatively rare in Australia and the cervical ribs that attach to them are even rarer."
Judy's 4m long articulated neck had to be encased in a two-tonne steel-reinforced plaster jacket so that it could be removed in one piece.
A further a adjoining 3m wide section containing rib bones, more vertebrae and limb bones needed to be separated from Judy's neck in order to be jacketed for removal by Museum staff and volunteers.
The Museum will resume excavations in mid-August and preparation of the specimen will begin in 2018.
The site was first discovered in 2015 by local grazier Bob Elliott.