Page last updated at 10:28 GMT, Thursday, 27 August 2009 11:28 UK

Australia discovers new dinosaur


Australian palaeontologists say they have discovered a new species of dinosaur on a sheep farm in the northern state of Queensland.

The fossil remains of the large plant-eating sauropod, nicknamed Zac, are about 97 million years old.

They were found near the town of Eromanga, in a fossil-rich area that was once covered by a vast inland sea.

Palaeontologists say the find confirms Australia's importance as a centre for dinosaur discovery.

The country's largest dinosaur, Cooper, was found on the same sheep farm in 2004.

Cooper was almost 30 metres long and was a new species of titanosaur - enormous, armour-plated creatures.

'Dinosaur rush'

Queensland Museum palaeontologist Scott Hocknull said Zac's skeleton was smaller than Cooper's, but more complete.

Zac, in common with other sauropods, had a very long neck, a small head and blunt teeth, and a long tail to counter-balance the neck.

Dinos (Travis TISCHLER/AFP/Getty Images)
"Matilda" (L), "Clancy" (C) and "Banjo" (R) were found nearby earlier this year

Mr Hocknull said the find was part of a new "dinosaur rush" in Australia.

"We have got dinosaurs coming out of all parts of Queensland, and so Australia is really becoming this centre for dinosaur discovery."

He said much of Zac's remains were sticking out of the ground, but there are further excavations planned in this dinosaur-rich area.

"There will be hundreds of skeletons underneath the ground. The bone beds are so dense, you can hardly move for a dinosaur bone."

Three new dinosaur species were found in the same area earlier this year, all dating to the same period as Zac - about 100 million years ago in the Early Cretaceous period.

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