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UQ Palaeo Blog
Kunbarrasaurus ieversi, Australia's new armoured dinosaur
ICYMI - Kunbarrasaurus gets dizzy on Twitter
Wading into the dinosaur stampede debate
Australia’s ‘stampeding’ dinosaurs missed the party
PhD and Honours Projects to track dinosaurs in the Kimberley
Knocking on dinosaur wood
Lark Quarry study wins SVP award
Digitally mapping WA's Dinosaur Coast
Lark Quarry climate study
Time to embrace Broome's 'Cretaceous Park'
The fight to save WA's 'dinosaur coast'
Outer Barcoo Interpretation Centre
Postgraduate projects
Life reconstruction of Kunbarrasaurus ieversi. Image © Australian Geographic.
Life reconstruction of Kunbarrasaurus ieversi. Image © Australian Geographic.

Minmi gets a makeover

New research by an international team of scientists headed by the UQ Vertebrate Palaeontology & Biomechanics Lab's PhD candidate Lucy Leahey has revealed exciting insights into the cranial anatomy of one of Australia’s best-known dinosaurs. The sheep-sized herbivore formerly known as Minmi is now known to have had a parrot-like beak, breathed through a nasal passage that looped back on itself, and an inner ear more like a Tuatara than a dinosaur. In fact, the little dinosaur was so unique the team decided it required a new name: Kunbarrasaurus ieversi ('Ievers' shield lizard').

UQ Kunbarrasaurus press release

Winton wood
A 3D digital representation of one of the Lark Quarry ornithopod footprints. Illustration © Anthony Romilio, The University of Queensland.


Let's talk about Lark Quarry

Everyone loves a good dinosaur story and they don’t come much better than the dramatic dinosaur stampede story used to explain the ~93 million year old tracks at Lark Quarry in Queensland’s outback. But did the stampede really happen? Our piece for The Conversation on the debate surrounding the Lark Quarry dinosaur 'stampede'. Read more...


3D modelling shows that Australia’s ‘stampeding’ dinosaurs missed the party

A new study by Anthony Romilio and Dr Steve Salisbury has reaffirmed the idea that the set of large footprints at Lark Quarry in outback Queensland were made by a plant-eating ornithopod dinosaur, as opposed to a predatory theropod. The study also shows that these tracks were formed well before any of those thought to have been associated with the site’s ‘dinosaur stampede’. Using a technique known as photogrammetry to digitally map portions of the tracksite in 3D, Romilio and Salisbury were able accurately determine the shape of the footprints, what the dinosaurs that made them were doing, and what the ground surface conditions were like when they were made. The sequence of events at Lark Quarry can now be bracketed by discrete phases of trackmaker activity and fluctuations in water depth. Read more...

Knocking on dinosaur wood; unlocking the secrets of outback Queensland’s ancient forests

UQ Palaeontologists have discovered a new species of fossil wood in the Winton Formation of central-western Queensland. In a study lead by UQ VP Lab PhD candidate Tamara Fletcher it has been shown that most of the fossil wood that occurs in outback Queensland belongs to a new species: Protophyllocladoxylon owensii.  The species has been named in honour of the Mayor of Longreach Regional Shire, Joe Owens. Read more...


Winton wood
A sectioned fragment of Protophyllocladoxylon owensii. Pieces of silicified wood like this are commonly encountered on the Mitchell grass downs around the outback Queensland town of Winton. Photograph © Steve Salisbury.
Anthony Romilio takes out 2014 award for best student paper in Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology during 2013 for his Lark Quarry study

UQ VP & Biomechanics Lab PhD candidate Anthony Romilio has won the prestigious 2014 Taylor & Francis Award for the Best Student Article in Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology during 2013.

Anthony won the award for his first authored paper on the re-evaluation of Lark Quarry dinosaur tracksite. For the past 30 years, thousands of small tracks at Lark Quarry Conservation Park, south of Winton, central-western Queensland, Australia, were believed to represent the world's only example of a dinosaur stampede. The stampede was thought to have involved a mixed herd of dozens of small theropod and ornithopod dinosaurs, fleeing from the approach of a much larger, marauding theropod. However, the results of Anthony's study demonstrate that all the tracks in the ‘stampede’ were made by ornithopod dinosaurs, and that many of them were swimming, not running, across the tracksite. Read more...


theropod tracks at Minyirr
Linda Pollard (left) and Anthony Romilio (right) documenting theropod tracks (Megalosauropus broomensis) at Minyirr (Gantheaume Point). Photo: Steve Salisbury.
PhD and Honours opportunities to track dinosaurs in The Kimberley

We are looking for motivated PhD and Honours students to help research the dinosaur tracks of the Broome Sandstone on the Dampier Peninsula, Western Australia.  The Kimberley’s Dinosaur Coast preserves what is arguably one the largest and most significant stretches of dinosaur track-sites in the world. Despite recent National Heritage listing, the majority of these tracksites are largely undocumented, such that their full scientific significance is poorly understood. Read more...


Digital mapping of Western Australia's Dinosaur Coast gets underway in Broome

A three year ARC Discovery Project to digitally map the Dinosaur Coast in the remote Kimberely region of Western Australia has commenced in Broome.  ABC Kimberely reporter Erin Parke talks to Dr Steve Salisbury from The Univeristy of Queensland and Yawuru Traditional Owner Micklo Corpus. (video)

Related coverage: ABC Indigenous News Secret dinosaur footprints unveiled in WA's north; ABC Kimberley Time to embrace Broome's 'Cretaceous Park'; WA Science Network Changing dinosaurs tracks spurs novel approach.

Chief Investigators Dr Steve Salisbury (Vertebrate Palaeontology & Biomechanics Lab, UQ), Associate Professor Jorg Hacker (Airborne Research Australia, Flinders University); Partner Investigators Dr Mike Bosse (Autonomous Systems Lab, ETH Zurich), Dr Robert Zlot (Autonomous Systems Lab, CSIRO), George Porapat (Mine Environment Imaging, CSIRO).

Lark Quarry leaf impression
The impression of a ~93-million-year-old leaf from a flowering plant, collected from Lark Quarry Conservation Park, central-western Queensland (The University of Queensland: Tamara Fletcher)

Fossilised leaves reveal that Lark Quarry was warm and wet

Dinosaurs at Lark Quarry in Queensland stomped around a warm, wet and seasonal climate bursting with flowering plants, a new study reveals. The analysis of foissiled leaves, led by PhD student Tamara Fletcher from The University of Queensland, shows the climate in this area during the Late Cretaceous was warmer and wetter than previously thought.


Have any feathered dinosaur fossils been found in Australia?

Feathered dinosaurs probably roamed across ancient Australia too, but so far undisputed evidence is limited to about five 115 to 118 million-year-old fossil feathers from Koonwarra in South Gippsland, Victoria.  The ABC's Genelle Weule talks to Dr Steve Salisbury from the Univeristy of Queensland about these finds.


Vertebrate Palaeontology & Biomechanics Lab wins the prize for best student talk at CAVEPS 2013!

Congratulations to Caitlin Syme for taking out the Best Student Oral Presentation prize at the 14th Conference on Vertebrate Evolution, Palaeontology, and Systematics (CAVEPS) in Adelaide. Caitlin's talk was titlted "Patterns of aquatic decay and disarticulation in juvenile Indo-Pacific crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus), and implications for the taphonomic interpretation of fossil crocodyliform material". Stay tuned for the follow up publication!


Vertebrate Palaeontology & Biomechanics Lab wins 3MT... again!

Congratulations to Tamara Fletcher on winning the 2013 School of Biological Sciences 3 Minute Thesis Competition with her talk Ancient climate in a changing world! Tamara will go on to represent the School at the Faculty level, and perhaps beyond. Support Tamara on Wednesday 28 August at 3pm (til 4pm) at QBI Auditorium (Level 7, Building 79, St Lucia Campus, The University of Queensland). Everyone is welcome. Please register your attendance for this event.


Sneak Preview of 'Heritage Fight' at UQ

On Tuesday 7 May, some of the key players in the Broome Community’s campaign to save James Price Point will be at The University of Queensland, hosted by Dr Steve Salisbury from the School of Biological Sciences.  Join Louise Middleton, Shane Hughes, Damian Hirsch and Alana Boylett for a sneak preview of 'Heritage Fight', an award-winning documentary about the battle to save James Price Point. 12–2pm, 08-388. All welcome.

Isisford bulldog fish unleashed on outback town

The Isisford bulldog fish, which surfaced from a 100 million year slumber eight years ago, has made its public debut at the Outer Barcoo Interpretation Centre in Isisford, central-western Queensland.


spinning Skartopus
3D animation of the holotype track of 'Skartopus australis' (now considered a junior synonym of Wintonopus latomorum). Tracks such as this were probably formed by a short-toed ornithopod trackmaker dragging its toes forward through the sediment. Animation by Anthony Romilio, The University of Queensland.
Australia's stampeding dinosaurs take a dip

For the past 30 years, Lark Quarry has been known as the world’s only example of a ‘dinosaur stampede’. However, new research by Anthony Romilio, Dr Steve Salisbury and Ryan Tucker shows that the majority of tracks at Lark Quarry were probably made by swimming rather than running dinosaurs, preserved over an extended period of time as the water level at the site fluctuated.


Dinosaur Hunter to visit Polar Cap

Dr Steve Salisbury of the School of Biological Sciences and Dr Matt Lamanna (Carnegie Museum of Natural History), in collaboration with four other US palaeontologists, have been awarded a major grant from the Nation Science Foundation to conduct research on the vertebrate palaeofauna of Antarctica from 2012–2015.


Could dinosaurs climb trees?

Could dinosaurs climb trees? How should we define "climbing"? What types of dinosaurs may have "climbed" trees? How did they climb them? What proof do we have? Did climbing lead to flying? Kathy Graham interviews Dr Steve Salisbury from The University of Queensland on these and related topics as part of the ABC's Ask an Expert series.


Australia’s first named dinosaur puts its best foot forward

Research by Vertebrate Palaeontology and Biomechanics Lab PhD candidate Jay Nair is revealing exciting new insights into one of Australia’s most important dinosaur fossils. Rhoetosaurus brownei, a sauropod from the Middle Jurassic Period, around 165 million years ago, was the country’s first named dinosaur. Estimated to have been approximately 18 m long and weighed as much 20 tonnes, it was named in 1926 by Queensland Museum Director Heber Longman. The new study, published in Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, focuses on the lower hind limb of this unusual sauropod.


The fight to save dinosaur track-sites in the Kimberley, Western Australia

The coastline of the Dampier Peninsula north of Broome in the west Kimberley preserves one the largest and most significant stretches of dinosaur track-sites anywhere in the world. There are literally thousands of tracks and trackways representing at least 15 different types of dinosaurs, some of which there is no other record for in Australia.  With the exception of a few fragments of bone, these tracks constitute the entire fossil record of dinosaurs in the western half of the Australian continent, and provide our only glimpse at Australia's dinosaur fauna from the earliest Cretaceous, approximately 130 million years ago.  Some of the sauropod tracks are over 1.5m long, and belong to what may have been some of the largest animals to have ever walked the planet.

In 2008 the State Government of Western Australia, Woodside Petroleum and its Joint Venture Partners announced a $35 billion proposal to exploit the natural gas resources of the Browse Basin by installing a pipe-line, port and LNG processing plant at James Price Point, on the western coast of the Dampier Peninsula, approximately 50 km north of Broome.  Dinosaur track-sites at James Price Point will be destroyed if the proposed LNG precinct is allowed to go ahead, while others will likely be placed at risk from vandalism or theft in the absence of any clear management plan for their ongoing protection.  As a consequence, our understanding of this unique snapshot of a Mesozoic ecosystem will be severely compromised, and an ancient aboriginal songline of which the dinosaur tracks for an integral part will be broken forever.

In recognition of the outstanding heritage values associated with the dinosaur tracks, the intertidal zone along the Dampier Peninsula coastline from Roebuck Bay to Cape Leveque (excluding the area from Dampier Creek to Entrance Point) was included the West Kimberley National Heritage List on 31 August 2011.  Despite this, the Western Australian Government and Woodside have pushed ahead with their plans for the LNG precinct at James Price Point.  Decisions by the Western Australian and Federal Government to approve or stop the proposed LNG development now imminent, with the future of one of Australia's most significant pieces of fossil heritage hanging in the balance. Selected media coverage, letters of concern, reports and scientific publications


Lark Quarry ornithopod
Hypothesised reconstruction of the large Lark Quarry track-maker. Illustration by Anthony Romilio, The University of Queensland.

Australia's largest carnivorous dinosaur forced to take a walk

A new study by Anthony Romilio and Dr Steve Salisbury has cast doubt over the only known piece of evidence that large carnivorous dinosaurs once roamed Australia. A set of footprints at Lark Quarry Conservation Park, south of Winton in central-western Queensland, was the only evidence that Australia was once home to large carnivorous theropod dinosaurs as big as Tyrannosaurus rex or Allosaurus fragilus. But the new research, to be published in an upcoming issue of Cretaceous Research, has shown that these tracks probably don’t belong to a large theropod at all, and were most likely left by a large herbivore akin to Muttaburrasaurus.


Tyrannosaurs sent back to Northern Hemisphere

A team from the Vertebrate Palaeontology and Biomechanics Lab at UQ has challenged the recent identification of a possible tyrannosaur fossil from Australia. In a study published in Science, Matt Herne, Jay Nair and Steve Salisbury argue that a pair of pelvic bones discovered at Dinosaur Cove, southern Victoria, over 20 years ago, most likely belong to a type of theropod that is already known from Australia or one of the other southern continents. 


Searching for Southern Hemisphere Dinosaurs

As part of National Science Week (August 14-22), UQ palaeontologist Dr Steve Salisbury talks about his passion for dinosaurs and some of the field work that he has done in outback Queensland and Antarctica. podcast

Large predatory fish fossil found near Isisford

The fossil of a large, fast-swimming predatory fish, similar to the modern day Indo-Pacific tarpon, has been found near Isisford, central-western Queensland. The new fossil comes from the same locality that produced the skeleton of Isisfordia duncani, the world's first modern crocodilian, and is estimated to be between 98 and 95 million years old. A new display featuring the Isisford tarpon opened at the Outer Barcoo Interpretation Centre in Isisford in July 2010.


Hypothesized reconstruction of the Trichomonas-like infection of the oropharynx and mandible of MOR 980, commonly known as ‘Peck's Rex’. Illustration by Chris Glen, The University of Queensland.

Common avian disease plagued the tyrant dinosaurs


Tyrannosaurus rex and its close relatives suffered from a potentially life-threatening infectious disease similar to one that occurs in living birds. The disease, known as trichomonosis, is caused by a parasitic protozoan. Tell-tale symptoms of trichomonosis include erosive lesions in the back of the lower jaw. Some of the world’s most famous T. rex specimens, such as 'Sue' at the Field Museum in Chicago, and the holotype specimen at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh appear to have suffered from the disease and most likely died as a result of it.  The research has been published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE.

Little croc looms large over outback town

A new exhibit featuring more fossils of the world's first modern crocodilian, opened this week in Isisford, central-western Queensland. The exhibit is an extension of the existing display that was first unveiled in 2006, at the Outer Barcoo Interpretation Centre. In addition to more fossils, the new display featured information about the palaeontological discoveries that have been taking place in Isisford, and the many steps involved in piecing together what this part of central-western Queensland looked like during the latter part of the Age of Dinosaurs. The centrepiece of the new display is the complete skull of Isisfordia duncani.


The Argentine theropod Megaraptor namunhuaiquii attacks a small titanosaur. Fossils of Megaraptor are now known from Australia. Image: Luis Rey.

Megaraptor in Australia and South America

A fossil discovered in Australia almost 20 years ago has been identified as belonging to a type of dinosaur otherwise only known from South America. Dr Steve Salisbury and a team of palaeontologists from the US and Argentina have shown that an upper arm bone from Dinosaur Cove, southern Victoria, shares a suite of unique features with a medium-sized predatory dinosaur from Argentina called Megaraptor.  It is the first time that a dinosaur with unquestionable affinities to animals from other Southern Hemisphere continents has been recognised in Australia.

Antarctic Conference of Gondwana Palaeontology

It is with great regret that we have had to cancel the travel component of the Antarctic Conference for Gondwana Palaeontology. Originally we were planning to hold the conference on board a small ship sailing the Antarctic Peninsula and visiting several sites of palaeontological and geological interest. However, several factors have combined to radically change the cost structure of this proposed venture and so we have had to cancel it.

We have nevertheless received a lot of interest in the conference, and so have decided to continue with a conference themed on Antarctic and Gondwanan Palaeontology to be held in Australia in mid 2010.   More information and details will be made available shortly.

Australian Dinosaur Symposium

Friday 16 May, 1.00pm - 4.30pm

Dinosaurs roamed the Earth millions of years ago and have been a source of fascination and wonder ever since. Join palaeontologists Paul Willis, Steve Salisbury and Robert Jones as they delve into the world of Australian dinosaurs - their likes, dislikes, habitats and histories. Hear about the latest scientific theories and some of the practical problems facing palaeontologists in Australia today.

Talks include:

  • Dr Paul Willis, Journalist, ABC TV: What do we know about Australian Dinosaurs?
  • Dr Steve Salisbury, University of Queensland: Dinosaurs of the Southern Hemisphere - an Australasian perspective
  • Dr Robert Jones, Australian Museum: Collecting dinosaurs in Australia and Canada - an Australian Museum perspective

Dinosaurs of Gondwana

Southern continents, including Australia, are taking new pride in the fossil records of their unique dinosaurian faunas.  Sydney Morning Herald Science Writer Deborah Smith talks with Dr Steve Salisbury about some the exciting advances currently taking place in Gondwanan dinosaur research, and the new dinosaur exhibition at the Australian Museum. 


Outback Queensland gets international dinosaur attention

Palaeontologists Dr Steve Salisbury, from UQ, and Dr Matt Lamanna, from Carnegie Museum of Natural History, have begun excavations of rich fossil beds near the central-western Queensland town of Winton that they believe may shed new light on the evolution of Southern Hemisphere dinosaurs. The project's first major expedition took place in June/July 2007, and featured on the ABC's Science Program Catalyst.  Images


Outer Barcoo Interpretation Centre opens in Isisford

The Outer Barcoo Interpretation Centre in Isisford was opened to the public on 14 July 2006, featuring a prominent display on Isisfordia.


World's first modern crocodilian discovered in outback Queensland

» Meet Isisfordia duncani, the world's first modern crocodilian
» 'Slouching out of Gondwana' - Research Highlights in Nature


Dinosaurs discovered on Chatham Islands in the SW Pacific

University of Queensland palaeontologists have helped unearth a rare cache of dinosaur bones and other fossils on a remote South Pacific island 500 miles (860 kilometers) off the New Zealand coast.


Second giant dinosaur found at Queensland site

'Mary' is the second giant sauropod to be found at the 'Elliot' site near Winton, central-western Queensland

Selected News Stories

Image gallery

Photo: Chris Stacey, The University of Queensland.