The fossilized remains of an herbivorous dinosaur were found in ancient rocks in Australia. The fast-running dinosaur is actually just the size of a turkey.
Australia is home to many unique creatures, and as it turns out, it has been so for millions of years. A newly published research paper describes the discovery of the partial skeleton of a turkey-sized dinosaur lodged within 113-million-year-old rocks.
The fossilized remains were actually found protruding from a rock near Cape Otway back in 2005. Though the fossils found were incomplete, comprised of an almost complete tail and a hind leg, upon extensive examination, they found that the creature was likely a turkey-sized, fast-running close relative of the already known bipedal ornithopod species that also roamed the area.
As such, they named the dinosaur the Diluvicursor pickeringi, which means "Pickering's Flood-Running dinosaur" in honor of David Pickering, a notable figure in Australian paleontology who sadly passed away on the day before Christmas in 2016.
The discovery sheds light onto the diversity of ornithopods, which used to roam between Australia and Antarctica. Specifically, researchers believe that this is the first discovery that shows at least one other distinction in the body type of the ornithopods.
"One was lightly built with an extraordinarily long tail, while the other, Diluvicursor, was more solidly built, with a far shorter tail," said Dr. Matthew C. Herne, lead author of the study.
Upon examining the creature's hind leg, researchers found that the creature likely had powerful leg muscles. Coupling that with the muscular tail of the D. pickeringi suggests that the creature was very likely a powerful runner.
Dinosaur In A Jam
Apart from learning about the creature itself, researchers also gained insight regarding the environment it was moving in especially given that the fossilized remains appeared to have been entangled in a log-jam as it was likely buried along with tree stumps, branches, and logs at the bottom of a powerful river.
What this suggests is that the path that the ancient river went through was that of a forested terrain. Amazingly, the logs also preserved at the site represent the conifer trees that are still standing in Australian forests today.
As it stands, there are still many fossil finds waiting to be discovered at the Eric the Red West site, so researchers are excited to see what else they can discover about the flora and fauna of the ancient site.
The paper describing D. pickering is published in the journal PeerJ.