Officials in Australia have confirmed the discovery of a previously undiscovered species of dinosaur, the largest ever found on the continent, and one of the largest to have ever lived.
A study published Monday in the scientific journal Paleontology and Evolutionary Science describes how bones originally discovered in 2006 have been officially designated as Australotitan Cooperensis, a giant sauropod, a type of long-necked plant-eating dinosaur.
Queensland Museum paleontologist Scott Hocknull told reporters Tuesday the animal stood five to six-and-a-half meters high and was 25 to 30 meters long from head to tail.
The dinosaur is known as Australotitan for short, and affectionately as “Cooper” by the members of the team that conducted the study. The bones were originally discovered on a family farm in 2006 about 1,000 kilometers west of Brisbane in the Eromanga Basin.
The team of paleontologists, geologists and volunteers spent 15 years studying the bones using 3-D digital scanning technology to compare the dinosaur with its close relatives, to determine and confirm what they had found. Hocknull said, “We compared Australotitan's bones to all of these gigantic sauropods and it's in the top 10 to 15.”
The bones had been on display in the museum since 2007 pending the results of the study.
That part of the titanosaur family lived about 100 million years ago. The Queensland Museum says they were the last surviving group of long-necked sauropod dinosaurs and the largest known land-dwelling animals to have ever lived.