The partial skeleton of a new species of turkey-sized herbivorous dinosaur has been discovered in 113 million year old rocks in southeastern Australia. The fossilised tail and foot bones give new insight into the diversity of the small, bipedal herbivorous dinosaurs called ornithopods that roamed the great rift valley that once existed between Australia and Antarctica.
The new dinosaur has been named Diluvicursor pickeringi, which means Pickering’s Flood-Running dinosaur. The species name honours the late David Pickering, who was Collection Manager, Vertebrate Palaeontology at Museums Victoria in Australia. The skeleton of Diluvicursor pickeringi was discovered in 2005 by volunteer prospector George Caspar.
“Diluvicursor shows for the first time that there were at least two distinct body-types among closely related ornithopods in this part of Australia,” Matt Herne, lead author of the study published in the journal PeerJ. “One was lightly built with an extraordinarily long tail, while the other, Diluvicursor, was more solidly built, with a far shorter tail.”
“Our preliminary reconstruction of the tail musculature of Diluvicursor suggests this dinosaur was a good runner, with
powerful leg retracting muscles,” Herne said. The carcass of the Diluvicursor pickeringi holotype appears to have become entangled in a log-jam at the bottom of a powerful river, researchers said.