A new species of herbivorous dinosaur has been unveiled in Australia, with the discovery having been found at one of the opal fields in Lightning Ridge (NSW).
And the really interesting part? The discovery also represent the most complete dinosaur fossil found yet, preserved in opal.
Roughly 100 bones, mainly with potch and colour (common opal with some blue hue), with occasional flashes of gem-grade colour were found in the field known as Sheepyard. While opalised fossils are quite often found in Lightning Ridge, what is unusual with this discovery is that, not only was it a whole new dinosaur species, but it was also the first herd or family group of dinosaurs discovered in this country.
Photograph by Robert A Smith, sourced from the Australian Opal Centre
An Iguanodon-like dinosaur, the new species (dubbed Fostoria dhimbangunmal) lived about a hundred million years ago through the mid-Cretaceous period.
The name Fostoria honours long-time Lightning Ridge Opal Miner, Bob Foster who found the fossils in 1986, with further excavating by a team consisting of Foster, Sydney’s Australian Museum Scientists, and Australian Army reservists finding finding an accumulation of dinosaur bones embedded in blocks of rock.
It did take over 15 years of to and fro between the museum, a Sydney Opal store and Lightning Ridge, before the discovery was taken to the Australian Opal Centre for palaeontologist Phil Bell to study, using a CT scanner to digitally extract the bones for research.
What was unveiled was a likely adult of the species, 16 feet in length, along with juveniles of varying sizes.
This is a fantastic, and ground-breaking discovery for both the dinosaur and opal world, and provides further insight as to the environment and topography of Australia in those times.
For a more detailed report, please click here to head to the original article, published on National Geographic’s website on June 3, 2019.
Exclusive: Gem-like fossils reveal stunning new dinosaur species (article)
Author: John Pickrell
Published on June 3, 2019 on www.nationalgeographic.com