New dinosaur species one of the largest in the world
A new species of dinosaur has been confirmed, and it is one of the biggest in the world. The dinosaur skeleton, nicknamed “Cooper,” was discovered in Australia in 2007 but was finally confirmed by paleontologists on Monday.
The findings were published in the PeerJ scientific journal by researchers at the Eromanga Natural History Museum and Queensland Museum.
The name Cooper is short for the dinosaur’s scientific name of Australotitan cooperensis, a type of plant-eating titanosaur that is estimated to have walked the earth around 90 million years ago as part of the long-neck sauropod family.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg for discoveries in Australia,” Robyn Mackenzie, co-founder of the Eromanga Natural History Museum told CNN. “It has opened up a whole new dinosaur frontier.”
Cooper is estimated to have reached a height of between around 15 and 21 feet with a length of around 82 to 98 feet.
The sauropod is the biggest of any dinosaur species and known for their long necks, making them resemble a Brachiosaurus.
“The pieces were quite big and chunky,” Mackenzie told CNN. “We were able to measure the bones and compare them with other species in Australia and the rest of the world.”
Many of the skeleton pieces were found intact, including the pelvic bones, limbs and shoulder blades, but had to be stored at separate museums on account of their size making them both fragile and difficult to transport.
The team of researchers used 3D technology to analyze the fossils and compare them to other species, finding the Australotitan was closely related to other Australian sauropods found in the area.
“The findings have put Australia on the map,” Mackenzie told CNN.
Cooper would have roamed Australia during the cretaceous period, when the continent was still attached to Antarctica.
In addition to unearthing the Australotitan, paleontologists have been discovering other dinosaur fossils, and, according to Queensland Museum curator Scott Hocknull, the presence of Cooper means there is a bigger predator waiting to be found.
“We’ve found a couple of small theropod dinosaurs in Australia … but it wouldn’t have bothered Australotitan,” Hocknull told Reuters. “Which suggests there is a very large predatory dinosaur out there somewhere. We just haven’t found it yet.”