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Wallaby-Like Dinosaur Uncovered in Australia

The organizers of an annual dinosaur hunting expedition in the southern Australian state of Victoria believe they may have found the remains of a rare prehistoric wallaby-shaped creature. The discovery has been made at the Flat Rocks fossil site, 150 kilometers southeast of Melbourne.

The first formal dig at the site began in 1992, when researchers uncovered more than 300 fossil bones from the coastal region near Inverloch, where the rocks date back up to 120 million years.

Enthusiasts have unearthed about 400 bones and teeth during this year's excavations, known as Dinosaur Dreaming, organized by Melbourne's Monash University and Victoria's state museum. The discoveries include what is believed to be the remains of a small plant-eating dinosaur that was shaped like a wallaby, one of Australia's iconic marsupials.

It is thought to have been a very fast-running specimen, which had to move quickly to evade its larger, meat-eating cousins.

Dig co-ordinator Lesley Kool of Monash University's School of Geosciences, believes the small dinosaur would have resembled a modern day marsupial...

"They had a long, powerful tail -- like a kangaroo, very long, powerful hind legs, short forearms and small head. If you think of a wallaby or a kangaroo without its fur and without its ears and covered in scales, that is what we think that these small dinosaurs looked like. They certainly were not wallabies in any way, shape or form," said Kool.

Previous digs have discovered fossilized remains of several types of dinosaur, including large theropods, as well as birds, turtles, fish and other mammals.

The Dinosaur Dreaming excavation attracts dozens of volunteers. It starts each January and runs for six weeks.

Australia's largest dinosaur fossil was found on a sheep farm in the northern state, Queensland in 2004. Nicknamed Cooper, it was almost 30 meters long and was a new species of titanosaur, which were enormous, armored plated creatures.