Dinosaur jaw fossils in Australia belong to wallaby-sized herbivore

Dinosaurs the size of wallabies were running around Australia 125 million years ago, according to an analysis of jaw fossils. 

The Galleonosaurus dorisae is the first dinosaur of its kind to be identified from the Gippsland region southeast of Melbourne in over a decade, according to a report published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Paleontology on Monday. 

The small dinosaurs were considered “agile runners” that stood a little over two feet tall, said Matthew Herne, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of New England. Herne told USA TODAY while the dinosaurs would be similar in size to a wallaby, they didn’t bear much other resemblance to the furry animals.

“Galleonosaurus would have had an horizontal body, a long tail, with powerful hind legs with three functional toes, short arms and a rather small head, with large eyes,” Herne said. 

It’s unsure if the Galleonosaurus was a feathered or scaled creature, but Herne said scales are most likely based on its other ornithopod, plant-eating relatives. 

More: Researchers found spider fossils from 110 million years ago. The eyes still glowed

With this discovery, there are now five small-sized ornithopods that have been named from the Australian-Antarctic rift valley, meaning the diversity of “turkey-sized up to about emu-sized” dinosaurs was unusually high here, Herne said. 

Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets


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