Fossils found near Cape Otway

Palaeontologists and diggers found fossilised isolated therapod dinosaur bones at a site called Eric the Red West near the Cape Otway Lighthouse. The dinosaur claw pictured is 20 centimetres long.

A fossilised riverbed at Cape Otway continues to yield fascinating 107-million-year-old dinosaur fossils, revealing insights into the lives of the ancient reptiles.

Scientists have reported on their most recent discoveries as they prepare to head out to find more dinosaur fossils this week.

Diggers have released a paper outlining a cache of fossilised theropod bones, that are rare in Australia, at a site called Eric the Red West near the Cape Otway Lighthouse, in a rock layer that is about 107 million years old.

Swinburne University palaeontologist Stephen Poropat led the research on the remains and said the isolated bones were not part of a skeleton and could be about 75 to 110 million years old.

Palaeontologists and diggers discovered the bones, including a 20-centimetre-long hand claw, between 2011 and 2017.

“When we found that smaller therapod claw, it was found with a couple of other therapod bits that are probably not from the same animal and they were also found with isolated hip and limb bones from plant-eating ornithopod dinosaurs and even bits of turtle as well, so we actually get a jumble of all different pieces of different dinosaur and vertebra groups, all buried together,” Dr Poropat said.

“It’s been quite interesting to try and identify each isolated bone, work out what type of dinosaur or other animal it’s from and then work out what its significance is and in the case of all the therapod bits that we’ve described in our recent paper, a lot of them are referred to this group of therapods called megaraptorids, which are unusual among therapods.

See today’s Colac Herald for more.

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