Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Mackunda Formation - Early Cretaceous

Terrestrial deposits are not known from central and northern Australia for the Early Cretaceous. This deposit is marine, being laid down in a shallow sea.

An iguanodontid dinosaur, Muttaburrasaurus langdoni,  has been found at this site. The skeleton was found intact, which is unusual, most fossils from the site are scattered, isolated bones. Iguanodontids look much like their ancestors the hypsilophodontids, they were both mainly bipedal herbivores, their hind limbs being longer than their forelimbs, and an elongated tail. Some Iguanodontids may have been quadrupeds. The Iguanodontids were larger and more robust than the ancestral hypsilophodontids. They were common across the Northern Hemisphere in the Early Cretaceous, but in the southern hemisphere their fossils are sparse.

Muttaburrasaurus probably had a spike for a thumb like Iguanodon, that is believed to be a defensive weapon, which makes it different from most other dinosaurs. Another feature that sets it apart from all other dinosaurs is an inflated area above the nasal region of the skull. It has been suggested that the teeth of Muttaburrasaurus may have been capable of cutting plant material or meat.

Hadrosaurs, or duck-billed dinosaurs, were a diverse group from the Late Cretaceous on the northern continents, but some are known from South America. The group had inflated crests on the skull rear, but none of them matched that of Muttaburrasaurus. A number of theories have been proposed to explain the structure, but it is not known what their function was.

Sources & Further reading

John A Long The Rise of Fishes - 500 Million years of Evolution, University of New South Wales Press, 1995

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                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email: admin@austhrutime.com     Sources & Further reading