Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Dinosaur Trackways in Australia

The dinosaurs of Australia and not well represented, either because the conditions were not right for fossilisation or because the fossil-containing deposits have been eroded away or maybe have just not been found yet, though in recent years some very productive fossil sites have been found. Information can be gathered from the dinosaur footprints that have been found concerning their everyday life, as with the stampede at Lark Quarry, and the environmental conditions at the time they lived. Pollen analysis of the nearby sediments can also tell a lot about the vegetation of the areas in which they lived. Study of the footprints can give some information about the types and sizes of the animals, and whether they were walking or running, as when they were chasing prey or being chased by a predator. It also shows that some dinosaurs tended to move around in herds as with cattle. The incident at Lark Quarry is a good example of this herding behaviour by herbivores. As with modern herding mammals such as wildebeest, that move in large herds, often mixed with herds of zebra and various gazelles, the  more eyes the better for spotting concealed predators.  

Trackways have also been found in the Broome area of Western Australia, such as Gantheaume Point. These footprints indicate that there were at least 10 different species of dinosaur living in the area in the latter part of the Lower Cretaceous, about 120-110 million years ago. In this area there are 2 main environments where the footprints can be found. One is a lagoon environment where the main inhabitants are sauropods. The other is a swampy forest environment where the known dinosaur inhabitants are of several types, theropods, ornithopods, and thyreophorans.

Some of the footprint genera found at these West Australian sites are a theropod,  Megalosauropus broomensis from the Early Cretaceous (Barremian - Aptian), Sauropodomorpha suborder, Indeterminate Indeterminate, Early Cretaceous (Neocomian - Barremian), a Thyreophoran Stegosauridae, Indeterminate Indeterminate, Early Cretaceous (Neocomian - Barremian).

Dinosaur footprints have also been found at the Rhondda Colliery, Dinmore, Brisbane, Queensland, from the Triassic Blackstone Formation. They are large 3-toed tracks of a carnivorous theropod up to 46 cm long, and a stride of 2 m. The animal has been estimated to have been about 6 m long. It has been compared to a species called Eubrontes from the Connecticut Valley, USA.

Dinosaur footprints from the Late Triassic Blackstone Formation at the Rhondda Colliery near Dinmore, Brisbane, Queensland. These tracks were of a large, 3-toed dinosaur. The foot prints are up to 46 cm long, with a stride length estimated to be about 2 m. It is believed the tracks were made by a carnivorous dinosaur about 6 m long. They have been compared to tracks from the Connecticut Valley in the US that have been described as Eubrontes.

Other dinosaur footprints have been found at Bergin Hill Quarry, Goodna, near Brisbane, Queensland. They have been identified as Plectroperna sp. based on comparisons with 2 species of Plectopernai from the Portland arkose of Connecticut and Massachutts, in the US. The longest of the Queensland footprints is 19 cm. They differ from the US footprints by being larger, more slender, and with the first toe print (hallux) pointed to the front. It is believed they belonged either to a thecodont or lizard-like animal.

Undescribed dinosaur footprints have been found in Triassic rocks at Berowra Creek in the Sydney Basin.

Fossil trackways of a therapsid, possibly a Lystrosaurus-like animal, in Triassic rocks at the Bellambi Colliery in the southern Sydney Basin. There are associated pentadactyl handprints and footprints. They were described as Dicydontipus bellambiensis. They suggest that the animal responsible for the tracks was between 84 cm and 1 m long, of intermediate size for Lystrosaurus, one of the commonest Early Triassic therapsids across Gondwana. The gait of the animal appeared to be more reptilian than mammalian, and it seemed to be slowly approaching a river across an open floodway then returning to a forested area.

Sources & Further reading
  1. Long, John A, 1998, Dinosaurs of Australia and New Zealand, University of New South Wales Press.
Last Updated 25/02/2011


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                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading