They find remains of an elafrosaur, an unusual dinosaur in Australia

They find remains of an elafrosaur, an unusual dinosaur in Australia

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A team of researchers discovered in Australia the first fossil evidence of a dinosaur species with an unusually long neck, the elafrosaur, which went from being a predator to having a herbivorous diet when it reached adulthood, according to a recent study published in the journal Gondwana Research.

The unearthed fossil of the theropod elafrosaurin consists of a singlevertebra 5 centimeters long discovered in 2015 at an excavation site in the state of Victoria.

The bone ended up in the Melbourne Museum's collection and was initially thought to be from a flying pterosaur.

Only a few years later, when specialists studied the bone in depth, they realized that, in fact, matched that of an elafrosaur.

An elafrosaur vertebra of particular beauty

Stephen Poropat, principal investigator of the study from Swinburne University of Technology, says that elaphrosaurus bambergi are "really rare", with only three species discovered in Tanzania, China and Argentina.

'This is the first record of this species in Australia, and only the second record of the cretaceous period all over the world". "The beauty of this neck vertebra is particular, because they are very rare compared to other dinosaurs," Poropat said.

Since Australia was much further south 110 million years ago, researchers believe these dinosaurs livedwithin the Antarctic Circle. Although the planet was much warmer during that time, they would still have had to endure months of darkness during winter and periodic freezing temperatures.

From fossil skeletons found in other parts of the world, it is known that elafrosaur hatchlings had sharp predator teeth, which they then lost upon reaching maturity, probably during thetransitionthat they experienced towards a diet composed of plants. This species measured about 2 meters from the head to the end of its long tail, and had short upper extremities, each of them ending in four fingers.

Researchers believe that many more elafrosaur fossils are waiting to be discovered in the Australian territory and consider the probability of finding more bones in future excavations "high".

Video: Incredible dinosaur fossils discovered in remote. Nine News Australia