Sunday, 24 November 2019

Muttaburrasaurus langdoni


Muttaburrasaurus langdoni is a dinosaur named after the town of Muttaburra in north-eastern Australia, where a fossilised partial skeleton was found in 1963 by grazier Don Langdon. Subsequently other partial skeleton fossils were discovered and it is now the most completely known Australian dinosaur from fossil skeletal remains. The living beast would have been 8 metres long and weighed nearly 3 tonnes. It walked on its hindlegs (like a gigantic bird) and may have been incapable of quadripedal gait. Examination of their teeth indicates that they ate tough plant material such as cycads.

Cast of a Muttaburrasaurus langdoni skeleton in the National Museum of Australia.
Cast of a Muttaburrasaurus langdoni skeleton in the foyer of the National Museum of Australia.

The dinosaur dates from about a hundred million years ago, in the Cretaceous period, when the land would have been rather different from today. Muttaburra (population 88) is surrounded by big farms where stock is grazed on natural grassland. It is sub-tropical, with hot wet summers the norm. Back in Muttaburrasaurus's day the landscape would have been lush rainforest.

The complete skeleton that greets you in the foyer of the National Museum of Australia in Canberra is made up of casts.

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