Researchers at Swinburne University in Melbourne were able to establish that a fossil found in Australia in 2015 belongs to an elaphrosaurus, an extremely rare dinosaur specimen.
The study published in the journal Gondwana Research shows that the find found in 2015 near Cape Otway, southwest of Melbourne, belonged to a rare middle-ground species between T.Rex and Velociraptor, the Elafrosaur.
This dinosaur was two meters high and had a particularly long neck. It is the first fossil of this specimen discovered in Australia.
Despite the fact that only one vertebra of this ancient theropod was discovered in 2015, researchers were able to determine its species by stating that it was an important advance in the field of paleontology.
As the study’s lead author Stephen Poropat of Swinburne University in Melbourne told the guardian, these animals are “really rare.” Previously, traces or fossils of elaphrosaurus had been found in Tanzania, Argentina, and China but never in Australia.
The vertebra is five centimeters long and was discovered by a volunteer participating in field research. Initially, the researchers estimated that it was the vertebra of a pterosaur (extinct order of flying reptiles that lived during the entire Mesozoic). The find is now part of the Melbourne Museum’s collection.
Elaphrosaurus was a medium-sized theropod with an extremely light and slender build. It could exceed 6 meters in length and had very particular features such as an unusually elongated trunk and very short hind limbs in proportion to this.
The fact that it was also discovered in Australia now adds an enigmatic new aspect to this species – since 110 million years ago, so far back as the find, Australia was much further south than now, that is, within the Antarctic Circle, it is evident that it was a species capable of adapting to multiple climatic and environmental conditions. It is true that the poles were much less cold than they were at the time, but it is also true that during the southern winters temperatures still dropped below zero degrees and that the polar night lasted the entire season as it is now.