We’ll go a-waltzing….

Australian researchers have just discovered a trio of never-before-seen dinosaurs in the Winton Formation. Two of them died at the bottom of one of those boggy places known as billabongs. So, naturally, the staid scientists gave these majestic extinct creatures three goofy names:

Australovenator (Banjo), Diamantinasaurus (Matilda) and Wintonotitan (Clancy) are the first dinosaurs to be named in Queensland in 28 years (Minmi and Muttaburrasaurus were named in 1980).

The famous Australian poet Banjo Patterson and his characters were the inspiration for the nicknames given to the new dinosaurs. Banjo Patterson wrote “Waltzing Matilda” in Winton in 1885 and also authored “Clancy of the Overflow.”

In a quirky twist of fate, Banjo (Australovenator) and Matilda (Diamantinasaurus) were both found buried together in what turns out to be a 98 million-year old billabong. Banjo Patterson’s story of Waltzing Matilda describes the unfortunate end to a swagman who steals a jumbuck (sheep) but is chased by police and ends up leaping into and drowning in a billabong alongside his stolen sheep.

You can read more about Banjo, Matilda and Clancy at PhysOrg or read the official study in PloS-ONE (although, reading that abstract, I thought part of the point of Australia is that there aren’t any “similar-sized continents”). There are images at The Australian Age of Dinosaurs online exhibit. That Banjo – he doesn’t look nearly as friendly as the name would suggest.