Jun 16, 2019 | Updated: 11:54 AM EDT

Newly-Discovererd Herbivore Dinosaur Fossils are Preserved in Opals

Jun 08, 2019 05:09 PM EDT

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Hypothetical reconstruction of the left pes of Fostoria dhimbangunmal,
(Photo : Phil R. Bell, Tom Brougham, Matthew C. Herne ORCID Icon, Timothy Frauenfelder & Elizabeth T. Smith)
Hypothetical reconstruction of the left pes of Fostoria dhimbangunmal, gen. et sp. nov., based on known elements in A, anterior and B, plantar views. Crosshatching indicates broken surfaces. Gray denotes reconstructed missing elements.

Scientists found colorful fossils from Australia which were said to belong to a newly discovered species of plant-eating dinosaurs. The said dinosaur remains belong to the first herd or family group of dinosaurs that were discovered in Australia.

In addition, the fossils represent the most complete dinosaur fossil ever found preserved in opal.

The remains of the newly-discovered dinosaur were found in the town of Lightning Ridge which is 450 miles northwest of Sydney. Scientists believe that the remains are already 100 years old. They have noted that the fossils have a rare blue-gray hue. They have also noted some occasional flashes of brilliant colors that are gem-quality.

Lightning Ridge is known as a treasure chest for fossils preserved in brightly colored opals. The said gemstone only occurs underground when there is a strong concentration of silica-rich solutions.

Stephen Poropat, a Swinburne University of Technology Paleontologist expressed his fascination as finding Australian dinosaurs was not common. The paleontologist pointed out that, including Weewarrasaurus, a dinosaur discovered a year ago, the current tally of known Australian dinosaurs is only at 24.

The Fostoria dhimbangunmal, the newly-discovered Australian dinosaur, lived about 100 years ago. The region was then a broad flood plain. The dinosaur species was an Iguanodon-like creature.

Phil Bell, a paleontologist at the University of New England in Armidale, spearheaded the study. According to Bell, the floodplain was wet and richly vegetated. Lakes and rivers were flowing into the Eromanga Basin, an inland body of water. The paleontologist pointed out that this condition makes the area perfect for plant-eating dinosaurs.

Poropat pointed out that studying dinosaurs from the said time frame, the mid-Cretaceous Period is currently of high importance as the world was then in its warmest condition. The paleontologist explained that studying the said fossils could give scientists insight on how the dinosaurs coped with an incredibly greenhouse Earth.

Bob Foster, a long-time opal miner in the Lightning Ridge, found the fossil in 1986. Foster worked with Sydney's Australian Museum and the Australian Army reservists to excavate the dinosaur remains. Later, the fossils were included in the museum's collections.

The opal-preserved dinosaur fossils remained unstudied for 15 years. When foster was able to reclaim his discovery, his family eventually donated the set to the Australian Opal Center.

Bell was then able to get his hands on the unique dinosaur assemblage. With most of the bones left inside rocks, a CT scanner was used by the team to study the fossils.

"Fostoria" in the name of the species was meant to honor Bob Foster. "Dhimbangunmal" is of Aboriginal origin, meaning "sheep yard" in honor of the locality where the mine was located.

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