Muttaburrasaurus (Muttaburra lizard)
Muttaburrasaurus (Muttaburra lizard)
Named By : Alan Bartholomai & Ralph. E. Molnar - 1981
Diet : Herbivore
Size : Estimated 7 meters long
Type of Dinosaur : Euornithopod
Type Species : M. langdoni (type)
Found in : Australia, Queensland - Mackunda Formation. Possibly also New South Wales - Lightning Ridge
When it Lived : Early Cretaceous, 110-100 million years ago
Muttaburrasaurus is a genus containing herbivorous iguanodontian dinosaurs. It lived between 107 million and 103 millions years ago in northeastern Australia during the early Cretaceous. Some analyses have revealed that it is a member the iguanodontian familly Rhabdodontidae. It is Australia’s second-most well-known dinosaur, based on skeletal remains. It was named for Muttaburra in Queensland, Australia where it was discovered.
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Muttaburrasaurus weighed in at 2.8 metric tonnes (3.1 short tons) and measured 8 meters (26 feet). The length of the holotype’s femur is 1,015 millimetres (40.0 inches).
It is not clear whether Muttaburrasaurus can perform quadrupedal movement. It was initially thought that it was an “Iguanodontid”, but recent research suggests that it may be a rhabdodont. This basal Ornithopod was incapable of quadrupedal movements. Molnar later doubted that Muttaburrasaurus was actually a thumb spike when he first reconstructed it. The foot was broad and long, with four toes.
Muttaburrasaurus’ skull was flat and had a triangular cross section when viewed from the top. The back of the head is wide, but the nose is pointed. A strongly enlarged, hollow, upward-bulging, nasal muzzle can be seen on the snout. This might have been used for distinctive calls or display purposes. This is conjectural as there has not been any evidence of nasal tissue fossilization. The so-called bulla nose was shorter in older Muttaburrasaurus species, as the Dunluce Skull shows. Although the top section of bulla in the holotype is not preserved, at least the second skull shows a rounded profile.
A partial skeleton of the species was first described by Doug Langdon, a grazier, at Rosebery Downs Station near Thomson River, Muttaburra in 1963. This also gives the creature its generic name. Paleontologist Dr Alan Bartholomai, and Edward Dahms, an entomologist, collected the remains. It was finally named by Ralph Molnar and Bartholomai after a long preparation of fossils. They also gave it the specific name langdoni in honor of its discoverer.
The Mackunda Formation, dating back to the Albian–Cenomanian, contained the holotype specimen QM F6140. It is composed of a partial skull with lower jaws and a skeleton. It preserves the underside of skull, the back of mandibula and many vertebrae. Also, preserved are parts of the pelvis and front and hindlimbs.
A few teeth were also found further north near Hughenden and at Lightning Ridge in northwestern New South Wales. Lightning Ridge has been home to opalised teeth, and possibly a Muttaburrasaurus-like scapula. John Stewart-Moore, 14 years old, and Robert Walker, discovered a skull known as the “Dunluce Skull”, QM F14921 on Dunluce Station between Hughenden & Richmond in 1987. It is thought to have originated from the Allaru Mudstone’s older layers. Molnar considered it to be a Muttaburrasaurus species sp. In 1989, two fragmentary bones were found in the same area. Iona Station, southeast of Hughenden, also has isolated teeth and bones.
Sponsored by Kellogg Company and displayed at several museums including the Queensland Museum, Flinders Discover Centre, and National Dinosaur Museum.