New Ornithischian Dinosaur Diluvicursor pickeringi identified in Victoria, Australia

Scientists in Victoria, Australia have identified a new ornithischian (bird-hipped) Dinosaur called Diluvicursor pickeringi. First discovered in 2005 and from the Early Cretaceous it has recently been identified as a new Dinosaur. This article will explore more about this new find and what could be expected of future discoveries in the region.

Wow what a week this has been for Palaeontology! Three major discoveries announced in the space of a week. In Australia on the 11th of January scientists broke the news that a new Early Cretaceous Dinosaur called Diluvicursor pickeringi had been identified in Peer Journal. On the 13th of January it was reported that Russian scientists had described a new species of Sauropod called Sibirotitan Astrosacralis first announced back in December 2017 in Science Direct. This Sauropod could reach lengths up to 39 feet and weigh as much as ten tonnes! Finally on the 15th of January an article was published by Palaeontologists in China in the Journal of Nature Communications about the identification of a new species of Late Jurassic Theropod called Caihong Juji which had rainbow coloured feathers.

Each of these discoveries and announcements have been truly fascinating, all coming from different regions of the world and very surprisingly within days of each other. In my previous article I mentioned that I thought 2018 would be a great year for Paleontological discoveries and I was not wrong! With so much Paleontological content to cover in such a small space of time I have decided to focus on just one of these discoveries for this article, this being the exciting identification of Diluvicursor pickeringi as a new species of Dinosaur in Australia. This story was first picked up around the 11th of January by various Science and News websites including Phys.Org, The Guardian, Radio New Zealand and Fox News .

Diluvicursor pickeringi fossil
Diluvicursor pickeringi partial skeleton holotype. Image credit: Steve Poropat and Museums Victoria (CC-BY) , 2018 via Science Daily

So what was Diluvicursor pickeringi?

Diluvicursor pickeringi was a small bodied ornithischian herbivorous Dinosaur weighing between 3 to 4 kilograms although the species probably could have reached over 7 feet in length and weighed up to 17kg (Radio New Zealand, 2018). Dinosaurs came in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, many may think that Dinosaurs were huge multi tonne animals but the reality is many Dinosaurs on average were about the size of a car, Diluvicursor pickeringi was only the size of a Turkey.

Diluvicursor pickeringi
Artist impression of Diluvicursor pickeringi foraging on a riverbank 113 million years ago. Image credit: Peter Trusler, 2018 via United Press International

Diluvicursor pickeringi was a close relative of another Australian Dinosaur that lived at the same time 113 million years ago. Walking with Dinosaurs fans will recognise this Dinosaur called Leaellynasaura. Although Diluvicursor was a close relative there are quite a few noticeable differences between both specimens with Leaellynasaura having a much longer tail and being built more for speed in comparison to pickeringi. Dinosaur discoveries in Australia are pretty rare so the finding of Diluvicursor as another species of ornithischian inhabiting the same area that Leaellynasaura once lived in was a really intriguing discovery. Both were built slightly differently operating in different ecological niches, eating different vegetation (Dunham, 2018).

leaellynasaura_1
Leaellynasaura as depicted in the BBC Documentary Walking with Dinosaurs 1999. Image credit: BBC Nature Prehistoric Life, 2018

The partial fossil skeleton of pickeringi was first discovered back in 2005 in the Eumeralla Geologic Formation in the south of Victoria and led to a recent discovery of the fossil which was trapped along with flood transported logs and tree stumps. The name of Diluvicursor pickereingi translates as Pickering’s flood running dinosaur and so named after David Pickering who was the Museum of Victoria’s Collection Manager, who sadly died in 2016 (Science News, 2018).

Dinosaurs like pickereingi have always interested me. The quick but small, social Dinosaur that was probably quite intelligent which might have lived in groups alongside other larger Dinosaurs for protection. The discovery of pickereingi is not only a great Dinosaur discovery in its own right but a great fossil find for Australia and Victoria.

So what can we expect of future discoveries in the same region?

Given this discovery at the Eumeralla Geologic Formation the conclusions found in Peer Journal suggest that the formation could contribute more unique fossil discoveries in the Geologic strata. Any future discoveries in the region could help provide a better understanding of what life was like for pickereingi 113 million years ago which would give the world more exciting backstory to this Dinosaurs life history.

I hope you have found this article interesting!  This past week has been fantastic for Paleontological discoveries. My next article will be covering one discovery I briefly mentioned at the beginning of this article that of the Theropod Dinosaur Caihong Juji in China, so keep an eye on Jurassic Finds for when that article drops!

 

References
(2018) Turkey-sized dinosaur discovered after fossils found, [online] Radio New Zealand, Available from: https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/world/348084/turkey-sized-dinosaur-discovered-after-fossils-found [Accessed 18th January 2018]
Harmeet K, (2018) Scientists discover species of dinosaur the size of a turkey, [online] Available from: http://edition.cnn.com/2018/01/11/world/new-dinosaur-discovered-in-australia-trnd/index.html [Accessed 18th January 2018]
Dunham W, (2018) Fossil of dinosaur swept away in ancient Australian river found, [online] Reuters, Available from: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-science-dinosaur/fossil-of-dinosaur-swept-away-in-ancient-australian-river-found-idUSKBN1F02RV [Accessed 18th January 2018]
(2018) New Dinosaur Species Discovered in Australia, [online] Science News, Available from: www.sci-news.com/paleontology/diluvicursor-pickeringi-new-dinosaur-australia-05632.html [Accessed 18th January 2018]

 

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