Monday, 29 April 2013

W is for Wintonotitan

Unfortunately, there are no dinosaurs that start with 'W' from Alberta, so we're going to talk about a dinosaur from Australia this week. You may have noticed that I haven't talked about any sauropods (long-necked dinosaurs) at all during this series. That is because no sauropod fossils have ever been found in Alberta, so I'm going to take advantage of that and talk about a sauropod from Australia in 'W is for Wintonotitan'.

Wintonotitan fossils were first found in 1974, but were named to the genus Austrosaurus, the only Cretaceous sauropod from Australia known at that time. In 2009, the partial skeleton originally found consisting of a scapula (shoulder blade), partial left and right arms, and fragmentary vertebrae, ribs, hips and more were named as the type specimen of Wintonotitan wattsi [1]. Some caudal (tail) vertebrae found later were also referred to this species. It lived during the mid Cretaceous (approximately 100 million years ago) of Australia, found near a town in the northwest (Queensland) called Winton, hence the name. It is a basal titanosauriform, which includes well known dinosaurs like Saltasaurus and Argentinosaurus, and like other sauropods, it was a large herbivore that walked on all four legs. The fossils of Wintonotitan were found in a sandstone, along with fish fragments, a theropod tooth, and several plant fossils. It lived alongside pterosaurs, other dinosaurs like Australovenator and Diamantinasaurus, insects, bivalves, and more. It lived among many plants like ferns, ginkgoes, flowering plants, and more.
Wintonotitan by T. Tishler from Hocknull et al. [1]
And that's it for Wintonotitan! Next week, we'll talk about our final Albertan dinosaur in the alphabet, with 'X'. Also, don't forget, we are now open to the public for the season! Why not plan to visit us this weekend? The forecast looks great!

1. Hocknull, S.A. et al. 2009. New mid-Cretaceous (latest Albian) dinosaurs from Winton, Queensland, Australia. PLoS ONE 4: e6190. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006190

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