Winton Museum reveals largest theropod dinosaur found in Australia

PREHISTORIC: An artist's impression of Australovenator preparing to eat its prey. Photo: Travis Tischler)
PREHISTORIC: An artist's impression of Australovenator preparing to eat its prey. Photo: Travis Tischler)

Fossilised dinosaur bones found on a North West Queensland cattle station two years ago could be a new species.

The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum at Winton and the University of New England say the bones belong to a theropod and are about 95 million years old.

This new theropod belongs to a group of carnivorous dinosaurs called megaraptorids, which had serrated, blade-like teeth, huge muscular arms and razor-sharp claws.

Bob Elliott found the small, fragmented bones on his property west of Winton in 2017 and further digging uncovered about 15 partial limb bones and several vertebrae.

They resemble the Australovenator wintonesis - the most complete theropod dinosaur ever discovered in Australia found nearby in 2006 then named and described in 2009.

Lead researcher Dr Matt White from the University of New England.

Lead researcher Dr Matt White from the University of New England.

Lead researcher Dr Matt White from the University of New England said they're just slightly bigger.

"Although no well-preserved bones were recovered from below the surface, I was amazed to find it was a theropod, the second to be discovered from the area," Dr White said.

"The bones discovered are slightly larger than Australovenator and show anatomical variations indicating that they may belong to a new species."

Dr White said the dinosaurs could be up to 2 metres high and 5 to 7 metres long

Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum founder David Elliott said theropod bones were rare, although their teeth are often found among the remains of sauropods, which are believed to have been their predominant prey.

Artist Travis Tichler's impression of a Diamantinasaurus being attacked by a pack of Australovenators. (University of New England)

Artist Travis Tichler's impression of a Diamantinasaurus being attacked by a pack of Australovenators. (University of New England)

"The Museum has excavated dozens of sauropod sites over the past 17 years and we have found the teeth of theropods at many of them," Mr Elliott said.

"This indicates that there may have been quite large numbers of theropods like Australovenator around at this time."

The newly identified theropod bones are on display at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum.

This story Winton Museum reveals largest theropod dinosaur found in Australia first appeared on The North West Star.