AUSSIE ‘JURAS­SIC PARK’ FOUND

Ex­perts find 21 types of di­nosaur tracks along re­mote western coast­line

New Straits Times - - World -

AN “un­prece­dented” 21 types of di­nosaur tracks have been found on a stretch of Aus­tralia’s re­mote coast­line, sci­en­tists said, dub­bing it the na­tion’s Juras­sic Park.

Palaeon­tol­o­gists from the Univer­sity of Queens­land and James Cook Univer­sity said yes­ter­day it was the most di­verse of such dis­cov­ery in the world, un­earthed in rocks up to 140 mil­lion years old in the Kim­ber­ley re­gion of Western Aus­tralia.

Steve Sal­is­bury, lead au­thor of a pa­per on the find­ings pub­lished in the Me­moir of the So­ci­ety of

Ver­te­brate Pa­le­on­tol­ogy, said the tracks were “glob­ally un­par­al­leled”.

“It is ex­tremely sig­nif­i­cant, form­ing the pri­mary record of non-avian di­nosaurs in the western half of the con­ti­nent and pro­vid­ing the only glimpse of Aus­tralia’s di­nosaur fauna dur­ing the first half of the Early Cre­ta­ceous Pe­riod,” he said.

“It’s such a mag­i­cal place — Aus­tralia’s own Juras­sic Park, in a spec­tac­u­lar wilder­ness set­ting.

“Among the tracks is the only con­firmed ev­i­dence for stegosaurs in Aus­tralia.

“There are also some of the largest di­nosaur tracks ever recorded.”

It was al­most lost, with the Western Aus­tralian govern­ment in 2008 se­lect­ing the area as the pre­ferred site for a massive liq­uid nat­u­ral gas pro­cess­ing precinct.

Alarmed, the re­gion’s tra­di­tional Abo­rig­i­nal cus­to­di­ans, the Goolara­booloo peo­ple, con­tacted Sal­is­bury and his team to of­fi­cially re­search what they knew was there.

They spent more than 400 hours in­ves­ti­gat­ing and doc­u­ment­ing di­nosaur tracks in the Wal­madany area.

“We needed the world to see what was at stake,” Goolara­booloo of­fi­cial Phillip Roe said, ex­plain­ing the di­nosaur tracks formed part of a song­line that ex­tended along the coast and then in­land, trac­ing the jour­ney of a Dream­time creator be­ing called Mar­ala, the Emu man.

Abo­rig­i­nal Aus­tralians have de­vel­oped and are bound by highly com­plex be­lief sys­tems — known as the Dream­time — that in­ter­con­nect the land, spir­i­tu­al­ity, law, so­cial life and care of the en­vi­ron­ment.

A song­line is one of the paths across the land, which mark the route fol­lowed by lo­calised “creator-be­ings”, sto­ries that have been handed down through the gen­er­a­tions.

“Mar­ala was the Law­giver. He gave coun­try the rules we need to fol­low. How to be­have, to keep things in bal­ance,” Roe said.

The area was even­tu­ally awarded Na­tional Her­itage sta­tus in 2011 and the gas project sub­se­quently col­lapsed.

AFP PIC

In this un­dated pic­ture re­leased yes­ter­day, Dr An­thony Romilio and Linda Pol­lard cre­at­ing a sil­i­con cast of sauro­pod tracks in the Lower Cre­ta­ceous Broome Sand­stone in Wal­madany, Dampier Penin­sula, Western Aus­tralia.

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