Mar 12, 2019 09:00 AM EDT
Wallabies and Kangaroos weren't around in Australia about 250 million years ago, but herbivorous dinosaurs with round powerful legs were. Researchers recently discovered fossilized jaws of five previously unknown type of dinosaur in the state of Victoria. It came by the size of the modern-day wallaby.
Wallabies belong to the family of the kangaroos, so they can grow only up to around a foot to 3.2 feet tall. Galleonosaurus dorisae was the name given to the fossils as its jaws resemble that of the hull of a galleon ship, and the paleontologist Doris Seegets-Villiers, who was responsible for the studies conducted in the area. Their findings were published early this week in the Journal of Paleontology.
The dinosaur is believed to belong to the family of ornithopods, which are characterized as small and quick. This family also includes the popular iguanodons, whose features are similar to that of the iguana.
"These dinosaurs are small and would have been agile runners due to their powerful hind legs," said Matthew Herne, the lead author of the research study in a statement. He is currently working on his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of England in the New South Wales in Australia.
The team of researchers found a set of five jaws ranging from the youngest to the more mature. They discovered in from the same area inhabited by the other small ornithopods. This is an indication that the creatures liked the forest-covered floodplain of the former Australian-Antarctic rift valleys recorded millions of years ago.
This finding "confirms that on a global scale, the presence of the diversity among these small creatures had been unusually high in the rift valley that once connected Australia and the Antarctic," Herne said.
The Galleonosaurus dorisae was buried in volcanic elements which were carried in place by the once known as the network of deep rivers with swift waters. Herene and his team of researchers also found what they called as the Diluvicursor pickeringi, another small ornithopod in their excavation in 2018. However, the Galleonosaurus was much older by a span of 12 million years. The researchers believe that this new finding reveals that dinosaurs were living and evolving with time along the rift valley for a long period of time.
The rivers carried with it various volcanic sediments to form deep sedimentary basins. Over time, the sediments have mixed with dinosaur bones, fallen trees and other natural remnants of what was once there.
"This land has seemingly vanishes and we time travellers have discovered a remarkable world via the rocks and the fossils along the beautiful coast of Victoria," Herne said.
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