Diamantinasaurus matildae, a titanosaur recently discovered near Winton in central Queensland, is the most complete Australian sauropod known.
- Anne Musser
- © Anne Musser
What was Diamantinasaurus?
Diamantinasaurus matildae was a titanosaur, found near Winton in central Queensland. It was the most complete Australian sauropod known.
Diamantinasaurus and a second titanosaur, Wintonotitan, are the first new sauropods from Australia in over 75 years.
What did Diamantinasaurus look like?
Titanosaurs are the largest known land animals. They may have reached 35 metres in length and 100 tonnes in weight. Diamantinasaurus was a relatively small but solidly built titanosaur. It was 15 to 16 metres long and weighing 15 to 20 tonnes.
The bones of Diamantinasaurus (nicknamed ‘Matilda’) were found with those of Australovenator (called ‘Banjo’) in the remains of an ancient billabong.
What was Australia like when Diamantinasaurus was alive?
In the middle of the Cretaceous Period, 100 million years ago, Winton was a large river plain. This plain was left behind by the drying up of the inland sea known as the Eromanga Sea. There were large, winding rivers, freshwater pools, billabongs, swamps, lakes and coastal estuaries.
The climate was warm and mild, with distinct seasons and plenty of rain.
Plants included: early flowering plants, conifers, ginkgoes and ferns.
Other dinosaurs around at the same time included Australovenator and Wintonotitan.
Huge sauropods - probably other titanosaurs – also lived in Australia at the same time. This was known from large footprints left along the Broome coastline in Western Australia. The largest of these prints was 1.5 metres across.
What did Diamantinasaurus eat?
Sauropods were plant-eaters (herbivores). The skull and teeth of Diamantinasaurus have not been found, so its actual diet was unknown. However, it would have been able to choose from conifers, early flowering plants, ginkgoes, cycads, ferns and horsetails.
Although described as ‘hippo-like’, Diamantinasaurus most likely lived on dry land. Early ideas about sauropods spending part of their lives in the water have mostly been dismissed.