Fossilized elasmosaur, a long-necked plesiosaur that co-existed with dinosaurs in the early Cretaceous Period. Image from BHP.Project DIG, a partnership between Queensland Museum Network, BHP and BHP Mitsubishi Alliance has uncovered a rare new fossil from Western Queensland.
A team of palaeontologists, led by the Museum Network’s Dr. Espen Knutsen, has unearthed Australia’s first head and associated body of a 100-million-year-old elasmosaur, a long-necked plesiosaur that co-existed with dinosaurs in the early Cretaceous Period.
It is rare to find a preserved head and body together as these fragments are usually separated after death due to the elasmosaur’s long slender neck. Several other specimens, including fragments from an ichthyosaur were collected from the site in Western Queensland and will be transported to the Museum of Tropical Queensland in Townsville for further research, BHP said in a media release.
The discovery of these specimens combined with modern analytical methodologies may hold the key to unravelling the diversity and evolution of marine reptiles in Cretaceous Australia, the miner said.
With BHP and BMA’s support Project DIG is designed to transform how the museum stores, explores and shares the State Collection and research with communities worldwide. Learn more about the rare fossil find from Western Queensland here.