Paleontologists think it had the snout of a crocodile, the claws of a bear and a taste for seafood.
But what’s most interesting about the discovery of Australia’s first fish-eating dinosaur is its similarities with specimens found in Asia and Europe, shedding light on how dinosaurs spread around the world in the Cretaceous period (125-100 million years ago).
Researchers from London’s Natural History Museum, the University of Cambridge, Museum Victoria and Monash University have determined that a dinosaur vertebra found on the Victorian coast belonged to a member of the Spinosauridae, a group of fish-eating dinosaurs usually found in Europe and Asia.
“The new fossil is the first example of a spinosaurid dinosaur from Australia,” researcher Paul Barrett from the UK’s Natural History Museum was quoted as saying on the museum’s website.
“It is almost identical to the Natural History Museum’s own Baryonyx specimen from England.”
Baryonyx was a 10-metres-long dinosaur, had a crocodile-shaped mouth and claws like a bear.
“This discovery signiﬁcantly extends the geographical range of spinosaurids, suggesting that the clade obtained a near-global distribution before the onset of Pangaean fragmentation,” the researchers wrote in their paper, which was published in the journal Biology Letters.
Pangaea was a single supercontinent that covered the world before eventually breaking up into continents. A clade is a group of organisms with a common ancestor.