My jaw dropped: first dinosaur named in NSW in nearly a century after occasion discovery

By Elle Rixon


December 05, 2018 14:21:07

A freak discovery, fate and a fascination with dinosaurs are behind a scientific breakthrough that has led to the identification of a new prehistoric species.

Key points:

  • Weewarrasaurus pobeni Was a two-tier, eating dinosaur about the size of a chicken dog
  • The opalized chin is found live lighting Ridge and is approximately 100 million years old
  • Weewarrasaurus Is the first dinosaur to give a scientific name in NSW in almost a century

Weewarrasauras pobeni Is the first dinosaur to be called New South Wales in almost a century, following a chance to discover a jawbone fragment in a bucket of opal rubber at Lightning Ridge.

There was a two-legged, dinosaur eating about the size of a chicken dog that had flooded the ancient floods in the state's north 100 million years ago.

The name is the Way Varra Opal field, where the fossil is found, and Opal buyer Mike Poben, who saw something special in the specimen and donated it for research.

"I was drawn to him straight away," said Mr Poben.

"It's like time still standing, I felt the back of my rush because there was something in the back of my head saying 'tooth', and if it was a tooth it was jawbone, and if it was Was jawbone, which I've never seen before, they are so rare, then there is something special. "

Mr Poben came across the fossil five years ago and shared it with Palontologist Dr. Phil Bell of the University of New England in Armidale.

"I remember Mike showing me the test, and my jaw dropped," said Dr Bell.

"I have to try hard to contain my excitement, it was so beautiful."

Dr Bel and his team spent the last two years investigating and identifying the 100-million-year-old jaw.

"There are some features about the teeth that are a dead ringer for a group of dinosaurs we call Ornithopods, and this is all characteristic relatively small, dog-sized, bipedal animals that eat plants."

Lightning Ridge is the only place in the world where dinosaur boots are rotating to open.

The University of New England is currently looking into acoustic mines known to produce fossils.

"Unfortunately, the fossil remnants that we see are almost always part of melting down … but on another hand, we would never get to see even the fragments if it was not for mining," said Dr Bell.

The Weewarrasaurus Jin is now part of the Australian Opal Center collection, the world's most diverse public collection of opalised fossils.

Mr Pobes's fascination with fossils remains strong and he continues to collect and evaluate opal fragments.

He plans to donate his collection to the Opal Center.

"I think they have to stay in Australia, and they need to be on display in Lightning Ridge."



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