Eight decades of "Austrosaurus": The discovery and rediscovery of Queensland's first Cretaceous dinosaur


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Eight decades of Austrosaurus: The discovery and rediscovery of Queensland's first Cretaceous dinosaur

In 1932, Henry Burgoyne (Goyne) Wade discovered the fossilised remains of Australia’s first known Cretaceous sauropod dinosaur on Clutha Station, north-west of Richmond. This sign was erected at the site of his discovery in 1933, shortly before the sale of Clutha and Wade’s subsequent departure from the station. Although the sign has long since gone, the hardy gidgee posts remained at the site eighty years later. The reins of Wade’s horse can be seen tied to the post on the right. 

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One hundred and two million years ago, at a time when much of Australia was covered by water, a bloated sauropod carcass floated down a watercourse and out to sea. As the corpse putrefied, a portion of the body broke away and sank to the seafloor where it was soon buried by mud. Over a period of several million years, the incoming sediments of rivers and streams deposited hundreds of metres of silt above the buried remains, forcing the sea to recede to the north. The seafloor was replaced by a floodplain, the mud encasing the bones became mudstone and the bones were fossilised. When the deposition of sediments ceased, the slow process of weathering began. Over tens of millions of years, the vast depth of sediment gradually eroded away, until the mudstone layers deposited on the seafloor over 100 million years ago were once again at the mercy of the elements. It was only a matter of time before the bony treasure within them would follow!

AAOD Journal Issue 13 (2015) – pages 24 to 39 
By Dr Stephen Poropat

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