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New Cretaceous dinosaur from Queensland

Staff Writer |
The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum today announced the naming of Savannasaurus elliottorum, a new genus and species of dinosaur from western Queensland, Australia.

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The bones come from the Winton Formation, a geological deposit approximately 95 million years old.

Savannasaurus was discovered by David Elliott, co-founder of the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum, while mustering sheep in early 2005. As Elliott recalled yesterday,

"I was nearly home with the mob - only about a kilometre from the yards - when I spotted a small pile of fossil bone fragments on the ground. I was particularly excited at the time as there were two pieces of a relatively small limb bone and I was hoping it might be a meat-eating theropod dinosaur."

Elliott returned to the site later that day to collect the bone fragments with his wife Judy, who "clicked" two pieces together to reveal a complete toe bone from a plant-eating sauropod. The Elliotts marked the site and made arrangements to hold a dig later that year.

The site was excavated in September 2005 by a joint Australian Age of Dinosaurs (AAOD) Museum and Queensland Museum team and 17 pallets of bones encased in rock were recovered.

After almost ten years of painstaking work by staff and volunteers at the AAOD Museum, the hard siltstone concretion around the bones was finally removed to reveal one of the most complete sauropod dinosaur skeletons ever found in Australia. More excitingly, it belonged to a completely new type of dinosaur.

The new discovery was nicknamed Wade in honour of prominent Australian palaeontologist Dr Mary Wade. "Mary was a very close friend of ours and she passed away while we were digging at the site," said Mr Elliott. "We couldn't think of a better way to honour her than to name the new dinosaur after her."

"Before today we have only been able to refer to this dinosaur by its nickname," said Stephen Poropat, Research Associate at the AAOD Museum and lead author of the study.

"Now that our study is published we can refer to Wade by its formal name, Savannasaurus elliottorum," Poropat said. "The name references the savannah country of western Queensland in which it was found, and honours the Elliott family for their ongoing commitment to Australian palaeontology."

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