STL Science Center

STL Science Center

12 August 2011

A big ugly

Muttaburrasaurus almost looks like a Skeksis at this angle.
The second most well known Australian dinosaur has a rather interesting name. The absolutely most known dinosaur in Australia is Minmi, the only other dinosaur we have looked at from Australia was called Leaellynasaurus. This week, our study buddy is Muttaburrasaurus. Australia loves the interesting names for their dinosaurs.

Muttaburrasaurus was found in the northeastern corner of Queensland in northeastern Australia. It dates from the early Cretaceous between 100 and 98 million years ago. This may seem like a very short window, but it has been said (by Bakker though I know I'm not quoting him exactly) that most dinosaur species only survived as a species for a few million years, maybe up to five million at the extreme end of that range of survival. I cannot even fathom humans existing five million years at the moment so that is an interesting dinosaur fact to me. Anyhow, our friend the Muttaburrasaurus is even more interesting in name taht his name does not mean anything poignant in Latin or Greek; the first remains were found near the town of Muttaburra in Queensland, Australia. The name simply means "Muttaburra's lizard" and the species name, M. langdoni, is, as happens, named after the initial discovery maker, a grazier (a fancy name for a rancher) named Doug Langdon.

Muttaburrasaurus, beside having a fantastic name, also possesses a fantastic skull. Though some of the original skull is not well known, possessing only the mandible and the lower side of the skull, other skulls have been found and a distinctive ridge has been found consisting of the nasal, premaxilla, and a bit of the prefrontal and maxilla as well. This ridge, it has been speculated, played much the same role that other large skull crests played in later hadrosaurus and the thought is that Muttaburrasaurus possessed large flaps of skin which could be used, thanks to the ridge from which they could hang, as enormous resonating chambers for species discussion and alarms. Even the teeth in the skull are special and unique, but that's another topic for another entry!

No comments:

Post a Comment