Out of the Woods with Grant Woodhams: WA was a bridge too far for many dinosaurs

Grant WoodhamsGeraldton Guardian
Human foot compared beside a Dinosaur footprint in Gantheaume point in Broome Kimberley Western Australia.
Camera IconHuman foot compared beside a Dinosaur footprint in Gantheaume point in Broome Kimberley Western Australia. Credit: Getty Images

My story last week about the Walkaway Bridge elicited a few responses from those who know the bridge better than I do.

I am indebted to Yvonne for her update, and Don for his substantial interest in every bridge in the world.

Sometimes I think I know it all, but it is never the case with an old dinosaur like me.

While I am tempted to stay with bridges this week, given the rain we’ve had, I’m going to push on and write about Australian dinosaurs.

That doesn’t mean I will be dobbing on footballers who have outlived their welcome in the goal square, or politicians who are more blinkered than a horse on the way to the glue factory. I’m talking about fair dinkum, Triassic and Jurassic beasts who roamed the earth long before we came along.

A recent discovery in the Cooper Basin of Southern Queensland of the remains of a dinosaur which has been named Australotitan cooperensis suggests it is the biggest animal to have lived in what we call Australia.

It was 30m long and weighed in at just under 80 tonnes. For good measure, it stood about 6.5m tall.

Apparently its home was what we call the Channel Country of Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia. While it is still to be proven, it is more than probable that the species originated in South America and came to Australia via Antarctica more than 100 million years ago.

Back then, Antarctica was not a frozen continent.

Instead, it was a massive rainforest — the natural domain of dinosaurs.

Our new best friend, Australotitan, existed at the same time as other Australian dinosaurs — Sauropods, all of which had extremely long necks, long tails, small heads and four enormous and very thick legs.

Oh yes, and they were vegetarians, their favoured food conifer trees.

But there is no evidence to suggest they ever wandered to this side of our continent.

Western Australia is not rich in dinosaurs bones — certainly not bones from anything like the Australotitan.

The two most significant finds on this side of Australia were both here in the Mid West — one near Geraldton in the Chapman Valley, and the other on the Murchison River near Kalbarri. Both were small by comparison, but they were part of the same family that produced the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails