Some Australian Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Reptiles

Ozraptor (oz-rap-tor) was a 3 m long carnivore from the mid-Jurassic period. It moved on two legs and had a stiff tail. It had three fingers on its hands.

Rhoetosaurus (reet-oh-saw-russ) was a sauropod dinosaur from the middle Jurassic period, about 181 to 175 million years ago. It walked on four massive legs and had a long tail and neck. The head was small, the body massive. Rhoetosaurus was about 12 m long.

Muttaburrasaurus was an Australian dinosaur of the middle Cretaceous Period, about 113-97 million years ago. It was a bird-hipped dinosaur that walked mostly on two legs. It was about 7 metres long. It probably ate cycads, ferns, and conifers and may have lived in herds. There was a horny bump on the tip of its nose. This may have increased its sense of smell or it may have helped make louder the noises it made. It had sharp spikes on its front legs, used for stabbing prey or enemies. It lived in herds and was probably fierce.

Kakuru ( ka-koo-roo) was a dinosaur from the early Cretaceous period, about 119-113 million years ago. The name means 'rainbow serpent'. It was a small bird-like carnivore that moved about on two legs. A leg bone was fossilised in opal, the only dinosaur fossil found like that.

Leaellynasaura ( lee-el-in-a-saw-ruh) lived in what is now Australia during the middle Cretaceous period, about 106 million years ago. The dinosaur was named by palaentologists Thomas A. Rich and Patricia Vickers-Rich in 1989 after their daughter Leaellyn. It was a small dinosaur about 3 metres long that moved on two legs. The upper part of its hind leg had a base that got wider from back to front. It had quite a large brain and good eyesight. During the first part of the Cretaceous period, Australia was inside the Antarctic Circle, and it was dark through the long winters. Leaellynasaura's large eyes would have helped it find food in the long months of winter darkness.

Qantassaurus (kwant-uh-saw-russ) was a close relative of leaellynasaura. It was part of the hypsilophodon group of dinosaurs. It had large eyes which probably helped it find food in the winter darkness. It is named after Qantas airline, which sponsored the 'dig' during which fossils of this small dinosaur were found. See a museum model of it here:

Minmi (min-mee) was an ankylosaur, or small armoured dinosaur, that lived in the early Cretaceous period, about 119-113 million years ago. However, unlike other ankylosaurs, it had horizontal bony plates that ran along the sides of its backbone. It walked on four legs and had a long tail. It had a short neck, and a wide skull with a tiny brain. Minmi was about 3 m long and about 1 m tall . It was a herbivore, eating low-lying plants such as cycads and ferns.

Wintonotitan (win-ton-oh-tie-tan), one of the biggest dinosaurs to roam what is now Australia, was named after the town of Winton, in Queensland's outback, where it was found. It was a herbivore sauropod, rather like a titanosaur. It had long front legs, but its back legs have not yet been found. It lived in the Cretaceous Period, when there were many swamps and pools.

As well as the dinosaurs, on the land there were turtles, crocodiles and other smaller reptiles. There were a few mammals, relatives of today's platypus and echidna.

There were also Australian reptiles that lived in the sea or flew. The Woolungasaurus was a long-necked plesiosaur, or swimming reptile, that was preyed on by Kronosaurus during the early Cretaceous period. Kronosaurus was 9 m long with a short neck and a huge head and jaws. The head was flat-topped and over 2 m long, or about a quarter of the entire length of the reptile. Platypterygius was 7 m long with a dolphin-like body and huge eyes. There were Ichthyosaurs, Ammonites and huge ancestors of oysters in the sea.

There were several types of flying reptiles in Australia, but their bones were so fragile that they were rarely fossilised. Towards the end of the Age of Dinosaurs, birds began to make their first appearance in Australia, eventually to take over from the dinosaurs after the great extinction that marked the end of the Cretaceous period.

Go here to find more Australian dinosaurs!

Go here to find out about Australian dinosaur fossil sites

Go here to see a picture of Australian dinosaurs

Go here for information about prehistoric Australian marine reptiles

If you use any part of this in your own work, acknowledge the source in your bibliography like this:
Sydenham, S. & Thomas, R. Some Australian Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Reptiles [Online] (2002).

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updated October 2013©