Temporal range: Early Cretaceous, 95Ma
|Restoration of the skeleton, Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum, Winton, Australia|
Hocknull et al., 2009
|Species:||† A. wintonensis|
Hocknull et al., 2009
Australovenator (meaning "southern hunter") is a genus of megaraptoran theropod dinosaur from Albian (Early Cretaceous)-age rocks (dated to 95 million years ago) of Australia. It is known from partial cranial and postcranial remains which were described in 2009 by Dr Scott Hocknull and colleagues.
Description and history
Australovenator is based on a theropod specimen (AODF 604), affectionately nicknamed "Banjo" after Banjo Paterson), which was found intermingled with the remains of the sauropod Diamantinasaurus matildae at the "Matilda site" (AODL 85). The only known specimen of Australovenator, which is held at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History, comprises a left dentary, teeth, partial forelimbs and hindlimbs, a partial right ilium, ribs, and gastralia. Australovenator was described in 2009 by paleontologist Scott Hocknull of the Queensland Museum, and colleagues. The type species is A. wintonensis, in reference to nearby Winton.
More arm elements of the holotype were described in 2012.
A phylogenetic analysis found Australovenator to be an allosauroid carnosaurian, with similarities to Fukuiraptor and carcharodontosaurids. In the initial analysis, it was shown to be the sister taxon of the Carcharodontosauridae. More detailed studies found that it formed a clade with several other carcharodontosaurid-like allosaurs, the Neovenatoridae.
The ankles of Australovenator and Fukuiraptor are similar to the Australian talus bone known as NMVP 150070 that had previously been identified as belonging to Allosaurus sp., and this bone likely represents Australovenator or a close relative of it. Alternatively, this bone could belong to an abelisaur.
The cladogram presented here follows the 2010 analysis by Benson, Carrano and Brusatte. Another study published later in 2010 also found the Australian theropod Rapator to be a megaraptoran extremely similar to Australovenator.
AODL 604 was found about 60 kilometres (37 mi) northwest of Winton, near Elderslie Station. It was recovered from the lower part of the Winton Formation, dated to the latest Albian. AODL 604 was found in a clay layer between sandstone layers, interpreted as an oxbow lake, or billabong, deposit. Also found at the site were the type specimen of the sauropod Diamantinasaurus, bivalves, fish, turtles, crocodilians, and plant fossils. The Winton Formation had a faunal assemblage including bivalves, gastropods, insects, the lungfish Metaceratodus, turtles, the crocodilian Isisfordia, pterosaurs, and several types of dinosaurs, such as the sauropods Diamantinasaurus and Wintonotitan, and unnamed ankylosaurians and hypsilophodonts. Plants known from the formation include ferns, ginkgoes, gymnosperms, and angiosperms.
Australovenator was a medium-sized allosauroid. According to Hocknull, it was 2 m (6.6 ft) tall at the hip and 6 m (20 ft) long, with a weight of about 500-1000 kg. Because it was a lightweight predator, he coined it as the "cheetah of its time". Like other carnosaurians, Australovenator would have been a bipedal carnivore. Recent phylogenetic analysis suggests Australovenator is a tyrannosauroid, like with all other megaraptorans.
- White, M. A.; Falkingham, P. L.; Cook, A. G.; Hocknull, S. A.; Elliott, D. A. (2013). "Morphological comparisons of metacarpal I forAustralovenator wintonensisandRapator ornitholestoides: Implications for their taxonomic relationships". Alcheringa: an Australasian Journal of Palaeontology: 1. doi:10.1080/03115518.2013.770221.
- Australovenator on prehistoric-wildlife.com
- Hocknull, Scott A.; White, Matt A.; Tischler, Travis R.; Cook, Alex G.; Calleja, Naomi D.; Sloan, Trish; Elliott, David A. (2009). Sereno, Paul, ed. "New Mid-Cretaceous (Latest Albian) Dinosaurs from Winton, Queensland, Australia". PLoS ONE 4 (7): e6190. Bibcode:2009PLoSO...4.6190H. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006190. PMC 2703565. PMID 19584929.
- White, M. A.; Cook, A. G.; Hocknull, S. A.; Sloan, T.; Sinapius, G. H. K.; Elliott, D. A. (2012). Dodson, Peter, ed. "New Forearm Elements Discovered of Holotype Specimen Australovenator wintonensis from Winton, Queensland, Australia". PLoS ONE 7 (6): e39364. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039364.
- Benson, R.B.J.; Carrano, M.T; Brusatte, S.L. (2010). "A new clade of archaic large-bodied predatory dinosaurs (Theropoda: Allosauroidea) that survived to the latest Mesozoic". Naturwissenschaften 97 (1): 71–78. Bibcode:2010NW.....97...71B. doi:10.1007/s00114-009-0614-x. PMID 19826771.
- Molnar, Ralph E.; Flannery, Timothy F.; Rich, Thomas H.V. (1981). "An allosaurid theropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Victoria, Australia". Alcheringa 5 (2): 141–146. doi:10.1080/03115518108565427.
- Agnolin, F. L.; Ezcurra, M. D.; Pais, D. F.; Salisbury, S. W. (2010). "A reappraisal of the Cretaceous non-avian dinosaur faunas from Australia and New Zealand: Evidence for their Gondwanan affinities". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 8 (2): 257–300. doi:10.1080/14772011003594870.
- Agnolin, Ezcurra; Pais; Salisbury (2010). "A reappraisal of the Cretaceous non-avian dinosaur faunas from Australia and New Zealand: Evidence for their Gondwanan affinities". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 8 (2): 257–300. doi:10.1080/14772011003594870.
- Zanno, L. E.; Makovicky, P. J. (2013). "Neovenatorid theropods are apex predators in the Late Cretaceous of North America". Nature Communications 4: 2827. Bibcode:2013NatCo...4E2827Z. doi:10.1038/ncomms3827. PMID 24264527.
- Scientists discover 3 new Aussie dinosaurs. ABC News. July 3, 2009
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- F. E. Novas, F. L. Agnolín, M. D. Ezcurra, J. I. Canale, J. D. Porfiri (2012). "Megaraptorans as members of an unexpected evolutionary radiation of tyrant-reptiles in Gondwana". Ameghiniana 49 (Suppl.): R33.
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