Rhoetosaurus brownei, a primitive sauropod from the Middle Jurassic of Queensland, is one of the largest and most complete Australian dinosaurs known. It is also one of the oldest sauropods, dating from a time when Australia was at high latitudes and closely connected to other Gondwanan continents. The only Australian sauropod older than Cretaceous in age, Rhoetosaurus is a key to understanding the global relationships of early Australian dinosaur faunas.
- Anne Musser
- © Anne Musser
What was Rhoetosaurus?
Rhoetosaurus brownei is a primitive sauropod (large plant-eating dinosaur) from the Middle Jurassic of Queensland. It is one of the largest and most complete Australian dinosaurs found so far. It is also one of the oldest Australian sauropods, dating from a time when Australia was still closely connected to other Gondwanan continents. The discovery of Rhoetosaurus is a key to understanding the relationships of early Australian dinosaurs with other dinosaurs worldwide.
What did Rhoetosaurus look like?
Rhoetosaurus was up to 17 metres long, stood about three to four metres tall at the hip, and weighed about 20 tonnes. Rhoetosaurus might have looked like the Late Jurassic dinosaur, Camarasaurus, with a fairly long neck, but with a short, rigid, tapered tail. It was named after the Greek giant, Rhoetos.
Rhoetosaurus could have reaching a walking speed of up to 15 km per hour (up to 20 km - 30 km a day), based on calculations using its limb measurements.
Rhoetosaurus would have been longer than either Wintonotitan or Diamantinasaurus, titanosaurs from the mid-Cretaceous Winton Formation of Queensland
What was Australia like when Rhoetosaurus was alive?
During the Middle Jurassic, south-central Queensland was full of lush forests. The main trees were conifers, with an understorey of cycads, tree-ferns and club-mosses, and a ground cover of smaller ferns and mosses. The climate was warm, wet and humid. The remains of Rhoetosaurus were found in what had once been a large, sandy plain.
What did Rhoetosaurus eat?
Rhoetosaurus used its long neck to browse from conifers, seed ferns and ferns.