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KWON - tuh - SAW - rus

Copyright 2007

Field Notes

Name Means: "Qantas lizard"
Length: 6 feet (2 m)
Diet: Herbivore (Plant-Eater)
Time: Early Cretaceous
Location: Victoria, Australiaa

Named for Qantas, the national airline of Australia, Qantassaurus was a bipedal herbivore. It had a short, deep head, five-fingered hands, long legs with four-toed feet, and a tail roughly as long as the head and body combined. It was about the same size as a modern kangaroo, but it was a running animal rather than a hopper-or so we can presume, for this description applies to other hypsilophodontids known from more complete remains. Hypsilophodontids, the group that was close to the distant ancestors of later ornithopods, first appeared in the middle Jurassic, but they became surprisingly diverse in the early Cretaceous of what is now south-eastern Australia.

Since 1978, many isolated or broken bones and teeth of hypsilophodontids have been found in the channel and floodplain sediments in the Otway and Strzelecki ranges on the south coast of Victoria. These sediments were formed in the widening rift valley between Australia and Antarctica, at a time when the whole area lay within the south polar circle. At one locality that is known as Dinosaur Cove, a tunnel has been cut into the hard rock at the base of the seacliff to mine bones from an ancient stream channel. From the range of different-sized and different-shaped femora (upper leg bones), it has become clear that various kinds of hypsilophodontids-possibly five or six-coexisted in this habitat. Most other parts of the skeleton are less helpful, but fortunately the high-crowned, many ridged teeth of hypsilophodontids can be used to distinguish different species.

In 1999, Qantassaurus became the fourth of these species to be named, but the only specimens that paleontologists believe definitely belong to it are remains of lower jaws and teeth. Because Qantassaurus shared its habitat with species of Fulgurotherium, Atlascopcosaurus, and Leaellynasaura, it will be difficult to say which other bones belonged to each of these somewhat similar dinosaurs.

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2006 - 2011 Content by Gavin Robinson.