Australia’s first sauropod skull.

Scientific Frontline reports on a Diamantinasaurus skeleton that’s chalked up a few Australian firsts after being discovered in Queensland:

Lead researcher and paleontologist Dr Stephen Poropat, from Curtin’s School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said ‘Ann’ is the first sauropod dinosaur found in Australia to include most of the skull, and also the first Diamantinasaurus specimen to preserve a back foot.

“I was lucky enough to be involved in this Australian-first discovery. Being able to lead the research on these fossils was a huge privilege. This skull gives us a rare glimpse into the anatomy of this enormous sauropod that lived in northeast Australia almost 100 million years ago,” Dr Poropat said.

“In analyzing the remains, we found similarities between the ‘Ann’ skull and the skull of a titanosaur called Sarmientosaurus musacchioi, which lived in South America at about the same time as Diamantinasaurus lived in Queensland. These include details of the braincase, the bones forming the back end of the skull near the jaw joint, and in the shape of the teeth (which are conical and curved).

Dr Poropat said the findings support previous theories suggesting that sauropods were using Antarctica as a pathway between South America and Australia between 100 and 95 million years ago.

You can read more of Poropat’s research in collaboration with the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History here, in Royal Society Open Science.