This is a scientific discovery, a major in the field of paleontology. The fossil of a elaphrosaurus, a species of dinosaur that was particularly rare, has been discovered by scientists, points out The Guardian. Belonging to the same family as the Tyrannosaurus rex or the velociraptor, this dinosaur had a height of 2 meters and a crew neck particularly long. This is the first fossil of this species to be discovered in Australia.
The dinosaur belongs to the family of theropods, which includes nearly all of the predators. It was about 2 metres from head to tail, and possessed a small arm, with four fingers each. Only a vertebra of elaphrosaurus was discovered. But, for the researchers, this is a real step forward. Stephen Poropat, of the university of Swinburne in Melbourne, who led the study, explains that these animals are " truly rare ". "This is the first record of its presence in Australia, and only the second, dated to the Cretaceous in the world ", underlines the scientist. Until then, the footsteps and sometimes even fossils of complete elaphrosaurus had been discovered in Tanzania, Argentina and China. There are 110 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period, Australia was close to the polar circle. Even if the area was hottest at the time, the elaphrosaurus had to survive in conditions that are particularly hostile.
A carnivore become omnivorous
Since few fossils of this dinosaur have been discovered, the elaphrosaurus is still very poorly known. To Steve Brusatte, paleontologist from the university of Edinburgh, interviewed by The Guardian, " it seems that it was a theropod light, capable of run fast and have a long neck, who have exchanged the carnivorous diet of their ancestors and have become omnivores ".
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The vertebrae, long, and five centimeters, was discovered in 2015, near Cape Otway, south-west of Melbourne. It is a participating volunteer in the research that made this discovery very special. But, originally, the scientists felt that it was a bone of pterosaur. Recent studies have allowed to discover that it was something entirely different. The vertebra is now in the collection of the Melbourne museum.