What is a Muttaburrasaurus?

Winny the Museum's dinosaur is a life-sized puppet of a juvenile Muttaburrasaurus. But what exactly is a Muttaburrasaurus?

Winny sniffing for food

Catherine Beehag © Australian Museum

What was Muttaburrasaurus?

Muttaburrasaurus was a large, plant-eating ornithopod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of eastern Australia. It is one of the most complete dinosaurs from Australia - only Minmi is more complete. It was the first Australian dinosaur to be cast and mounted for display.

Muttaburrasaurus was first discovered near the town of Muttaburra in central Queensland. It is Australia's most widely distributed dinosaur, found in both Queensland and New South Wales.

What did Muttaburrasaurus look like?

Muttaburrasaurus was about seven metres long. It had an unusual skull with a long, rounded snout. The snout had a hollow internal chamber. This chamber may have been used either to make Muttaburrasaurus' calls louder or to increase its sense of smell.

Muttaburrasaurus had many other features shared with other ornithopods. These include smaller forearms and a long, stiffened tail.

Muttaburrasaurus may have been able to move on either its two back legs or on all four legs.

What was Australia like when Muttaburrasaurus was alive?

Muttaburrasaurus lived in forests near the edge of the inland Eromanga Sea that covered vast areas of central Australia during the Early Cretaceous (110 million years ago). The forest understorey would have included ferns and cycads. In the south of its range, the summer days and winter nights were long, but the overall climate was much milder then than it is today.

What did Muttaburrasaurus eat?

Muttaburrasaurus ate ferns, cycads, club-mosses and fruiting bodies of podocarps (an ancient conifer). Although it was mainly a plant-eater, some scientists have suggested that, based on the shape of its teeth, Muttaburrasaurus might sometimes have eaten meat


Melissa Murray , Interpretive Officer
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