Australotitan cooperensis - Australia's new biggest dinosaur. Credit: Credit: Eromanga Natural History Museum / Vlad Konstantinov

10 Things You Need to Know About Australia’s Biggest Dinosaur

Paleontologists believe the length of the entire dinosaur was about 25-30 meters making it one of the largest species in the world.

Australian paleontologists have described a new species of sauropod – giant long-necked dinosaurs. Scientists named it Australotitan cooperensis. It is the largest dinosaur found in Australia to date, far surpassing all other sauropods that have been discovered and described in the past.


Titanosaurs are a group of sauropods, which includes some of the biggest dinosaurs. These sauropods appeared in the late Jurassic and existed throughout the Cretaceous period up to the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction. Fossil remains of titanosaurs have been found on all continents, including Antarctica. In Australia, several species of titanosaurs have been found in the Cretaceous deposits of the Winton Formation.

Paleontologists with a 3D reconstruction of the bone of the biggest dinosaur in Australia. Credit: Eromanga Natural History Museum/Handout via Reuters
Paleontologists with a 3D reconstruction of the bone of the biggest dinosaur in Australia. Credit: Eromanga Natural History Museum/Handout via Reuters

10 Things you need to know about the new biggest dinosaur in Australia

1. In 2005, fossils of an unknown sauropod were found in the Winton Formation of the Cooper-Eromanga sedimentary basin in southwestern Queensland.

2. The large size and fragility of the bones, as well as the poor preservation of some of the samples, made it difficult to study, so the preparation and study of the fossils took many years.

3. The fossil remains of this sauropod were studied by Australian paleontologists led by Scott A. Hocknull of the Queensland Museum in collaboration with Russian paleo artist Vladislav Konstantinov.

4. Scientists have attributed the dinosaur to a new genus and species – Australotitan cooperensis. The sauropod was named after the Cooper-Eromanga Basin and the Cooper Creek River.

5. Paleontologists have determined that the dinosaur lived approximately 96-92 million years ago.

Comparison of the size of the humerus. A - new species Australotitan cooperensis , B - Wintonotitan wattsi , C - Diamantinasaurus matildae , D - Savannasaurus elliottorum. Credit: Hocknull et al. / PeerJ, 2021
Comparison of the size of the humerus. A – new species Australotitan cooperensis , B – Wintonotitan wattsi , C – Diamantinasaurus matildae , D – Savannasaurus elliottorum. Credit: Hocknull et al. / PeerJ, 2021

6. The researchers compared the bones of A. cooperensis with three other sauropod species from the Winton Formation: Wintonotitan wattsi, Diamantinasaurus matildae, and Savannasaurus elliottorum. See the comparison of the bones in the image above.

7. Due to the enormous size of the bones and the large distance between storage sites, scientists created their digital 3D models, which were used in the study. It turned out that A. cooperensis was larger than other Australian sauropods.

8. The length of his humerus was 149.4 centimeters, while in other species it did not exceed 126 centimeters (and the length of the femur of the new species even reached 214.6 centimeters).

9. The authors of the work believe the length of the entire dinosaur was about 25-30 meters. Thus, the Australotitan is the largest dinosaur found in Australia and one of the largest in the world.

10. Scientists also evaluated the phylogenetic relationships of Australian sauropods. Paleontologists have concluded that A. cooperensis is a titanosaur and that all four sauropod species from the Winton Formation are most likely a monophyletic group (although previous work has placed W. wattsi outside the titanosaur group).

The researchers conclude that for a more accurate phylogenetic analysis, new finds of fossil remains of Australian titanosaurs are needed.


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Sources:

Al Jazeera. (2021, June 8). Giant dinosaur species found in Australia, among world’s largest.
Hocknull , S., & Lawrence , R. A. (2021, June 8). Introducing Australotitan: Australia’s largest dinosaur yet spanned the length of 2 buses.
Hocknull​1, S. A., Wilkinson3, M., Lawrence1, R. A., Konstantinov4, V., Mackenzie3, S., Mackenzie3, R., CM, A., IH, C., CS, A., T, A., MA, E., BNJE-SR, M., PE, B., KT, B., PL, F., S, M., C, B., SC, M., F, R., … VL, Z. (2021, June 7). A new giant sauropod, Australotitan cooperensis gen. et sp. nov., from the mid-Cretaceous of Australia.
Phys.org. (2021, June 7). Meet Australia’s largest dinosaur: Australotitan, the southern titan.

Written by Vladislav Tchakarov

Hello, my name is Vladislav and I am glad to have you here on Curiosmos. My experience as a freelance writer began in 2018 but I have been part of the Curiosmos family since mid-2020. As a history student, I have a strong passion for history and science, and the opportunity to research and write in this field on a daily basis is a dream come true.

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