AUSTRALOVENATOR WINTONENSIS   "BANJO"

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Australovenator wintonensis (Hocknull et al. 2009)

oss-tra-low-ven-ah-tor  win-ton-en-sis

Winton’s Southern Hunter

Theropoda, Allosauroidea

Winton Formation, central western Queensland

Mid-Cretaceous (Latest Albian) 100-98 million years ago

Approximately 5 m long

Approximately 1.5 m high at the hip

Approximately 500 kgs

June, 2006

Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History (AAOD)

Holotype specimen (AODF 604): Nine isolated teeth; left dentary (lower jaw); right and left dorsal (trunk) ribs and rib fragments; right and left gastralial (stomach) ribs and fragments; partial right ilium (pelvis); both ulnae (forearm bone); right radius (forearm bone); manus metacarpals (finger bones), hand phalanges and unguals (claws); right femur (thigh bone); both tibiae (shin bones); right fibula (shin bones); right astragalus (ankle bone); pes metatarsals (foot bones), foot phalanges and unguals (claws). Additional material awaits preparation.

Silhouette reconstruction of Banjo showing articulation of fossil specimens described to date (from Hocknull et al. 2009).

BANJO, WINTON'S SOUTHERN HUNTER

Fossil remains of theropods (carnivorous dinosaurs) number only a few in Australia, with all discoveries being represented by only one or two bone fragments. Banjo’s skeleton represents the most complete theropod skeleton yet found in Australia numbering dozens of bones currently known and many more awaiting mechanical preparation. Banjo’s skeleton has been designated as the holotype specimen for a completely new genus and species of theropod dinosaur, named Australovenator wintonensis.

Based on the bones prepared so far, Banjo can be classified as an allosauroid theropod, being most closely related to two similar allosauroids; Fukuiraptor and Neovenator. Fukuiraptor was found in Japan and Neovenator from the Isle of Wight; both are found in fossil deposits aged older than Australovenator.

Studies of Banjo’s bones have revealed that Australovenator shared many features with primitive allosaurs, whilst also possessing features found in a more advanced theropod group, called the carcharodontosaurids.

 

The Carcharodontosauridae is a family of theropod dinosaurs found in Europe, North America, South America and Africa. The most primitive of which is Neovenator from southern England. Based on the features shared between Australovenator and other more primitive allosauroids, as well as features shared with Neovenator, it is possible to place Australovenator on the family tree of allosaur theropods. Australovenator was most likely the descendant of Fukuiraptor and the ancestor to Neovenator.

Twenty eight years ago a dinosaur bone was discovered near Eagles Nest in southern Victoria. Once prepared, the bone was immediately recognisable as an astragalus (ankle) of a theropod dinosaur. In 1981 it was thought to belong to a dwarf species of Allosaurus, based on very similar features it shared to the larger Jurassic-aged dinosaur, Allosaurus fragilis. Debate surrounding this one bone has swung back and forth in and out of favour of its identification as a specimen of Allosaurus. Now, twenty eight years later, we can confidently assign the astragalus to Australovenator, an allosauroid.


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 REFERENCE

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New mid-Cretaceous (late Albian) dinosaurs from Winton, Queensland, Australia. (2009) PLoS ONE, 4(7): e6190. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006190

Scott A. Hocknullª, Mathew A. Whiteº, Travis R. Tischlerº, Alex G. Cookª, Naomi D. Callejaº, Trish Sloanº, David A. Elliottº

ª Geosciences, Queensland Museum, 122 Gerler Rd. Hendra, Queensland, Australia, 4011.

º Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History, The Jump-Up, PO Box 408, Winton, 4735.

   Received May 15, 2009; Accepted June 20, 2009; Published July 3, 2009

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