"Cooper" & "George"

Titanosauriform

Information
CLASSIFICATION
    Sauropodomorpha incertae sedis (titanosauriforms?)
AGE
    Earliest Late Cretaceous (Albian) 95-98 MYA
FORMATION
    Upper Winton Formation
SIZE
    Up to 25 metres (82 feet) long
LOCATION
    Eromanga, Queensland

The remains of two giant sauropods were found on a cattle station owned by Stuart MacKenzie near Eromanga, in south west Queensland, about 1000 km (600 miles) west of Brisbane. He had always wanted to find dinosaur bones, but for years he wasn't sure he was in the right geological area. A visit from the Queensland Museum in 1998 confirmed the potential for fossils in the area, even though they found nothing themselves.

In November 2005 MacKenzie's teenage son Sandy spotted some unusual fragments of rock that might have been dinosaur bone. Samples were sent to the Queensland Museum, where they were positively identified as fossilised bone. The hunt then began in earnest. In April 2006 Stuart and his wife Robyn discovered an enormous sauropod limb bone while mustering cattle on motorbikes.

Subsequent excavations by Queensland Museum staff have so far discovered the remains of two giant titanosauriform dinosaurs. A 1.5 metre (5 foot) humerus weighing 100 kg has been nicknamed 'Cooper'. A second giant bone, a femur 1.8 metres (6 feet) long (from another animal) has been called 'George'. The largest animal has been estimated to have been around 25 metres (82 feet) in length, making it potentially the largest dinosaur ever discovered in Australia, and among the largest sauropods in the world. These two animals lived about 2 to 5 million years later than Elliot from further north, who has been estimated to have been 'only' about 18 metres (60 feet) in length.

Titanosaurs in general are thought to have been the largest animals ever to have existed on the planet, being even larger than a blue whale when alive. Current record holders include Argentinosaurus from South America, and Paralititan from Africa. They tended to be more common in Gondwanan countries, so their presence in Australia is no surprise. Some of the largest sauropod footprints in the world are known from Western Australia, and it's likely that some sort of titanosauriform made those as well.

The fossils of 'Cooper' and 'George' have since been put on display at the Queensland Museum in Brisbane. It is hoped that further excavations will reveal more fossils from the same animals.

The Queensland Museum: http://www.qm.qld.gov.au/features/dinosaurs/queensland/cooper_george.asp
ABC news online: http://www.abc.net.au/news/items/200705/1912929
ABC radio transcript: http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2007/s1913193
Newsfeed Researcher: newsfeedresearcher.com/data/articles_w18/idw2007.05.04.08.17.12
The West online: http://www.thewest.com.au/aapstory.aspx?StoryName=378732


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