One of the most complete skeletons of a therapod dinosaur discovered by scientists is the Australovenator wintonensis. The fossil remains were excavated from Winton Formation in Queensland, Australia, in the year 2006. The theropod specimen (AODF 604) belonged from the Middle to Late Cretaceous era about 100 to 95 million years ago. In 2009, Dr. Scott Hocknull, a paleontologist at the Queensland Museum, and his group rendered identification to the species. Apart from his unparalleled research on the fossil remains of the theropod, Dr. Scott Hocknull is also credited for describing and naming ten new species. The term 'austral' translates to 'southern', while 'venator' implies 'hunter'. The word 'wintonensis' was derived from Winton, located in Queensland, Australia. The dinosaur was regarded by the nickname Banjo. The name was attributed in honor of Banjo Patterson, an Australian poet who became famous for his composition 'Waltzing Matilda'.
The remnants of the skeleton were found together with the remains of Diamantinasaurus, a sauropod. Some paleontologists speculate their relation with the spinosaurs, while others consider them to be close relatives of maniraptors and tyrannosaurs. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that the Australovenator belonged to the allosauroid group, and similarities with Fukuiraptor were found. However, these megaraptors of the Late Cretaceous were the most dominant bipedal, meat-eating group in today's Australia.
If you're intrigued to learn some more uncommon facts about the history of this medium-sized predator inhabiting Australia, then don't stop reading. Here are some more really intriguing facts about the Daspletosaurus and Baryonyx.
If you're having difficulty in pronouncing the huge name of the Australovenator dinosaur, then just break it up into 'Oss-trah-low-ven-ah-tore win-ton-ennsiss'.
Australovenator wintonensis is considered the largest identified theropod dinosaur discovered in Australia. It is a significant member of the family of megaraptors known for its elongated claws and comparatively large arms.
The fossil remains of the dinosaur date back 95 million ago to the Cenomanian age (Late Cretaceous).
Scientists haven't been able to unravel the exact time when Australovenator wintonensis was completely wiped out of existence. However, the 'southern hunter' remains one of the most complete dinosaur specimens that humankind could curate.
The fossilized form of the skeleton was retrieved from Winton Formation, which is situated in Queensland, Australia. It can be concluded that these dinosaurs resided in Australian territories.
The habitat range of the Australovenator encompassed the low-lying river plains of the Late Cretaceous era. The area around Winton Formation was mostly covered with meandering rivers, oxbow lakes, coastal estuaries, swamps, and freshwater pools. The climate ranged from temperate to subtropical, with abundant rainfalls.
It is believed that the dinosaur was pretty sociable with their family group as it hunted together. In the breeding season, these dinosaurs paired up with their counterparts. However, they were also capable of dwelling solitarily.
The average lifespan of these medium-sized dinosaurs is currently a mystery.
Only bits and pieces of information about the reproduction of these dinosaurs could be gathered. Like all other dinosaurs, they were oviparous. The males paired up with females during the breeding period. However, it's not known whether they used to form monogamous pairs. The females laid eggs after successful copulation and incubated the eggs until they hatched. Parental care was absent as post-hatching, the young were left alone to fend for themselves.
Australovenator wintonensis possessed a moderate to large body size. Each hand comprised three fingers that had long and sharp claws that were curved (perhaps used for tearing flesh). The two inner claws were comparatively larger. It had strong, muscular legs and lightly built jaws with small, serrated teeth.
After the restoration of the first specimen, scientists were successful in reconstructing the almost complete Australovenator skeleton belonging to the Late Cretaceous epoch. The pieces of the first holotype were preserved and exhibited at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History. The bones displayed in the museum included partial hindlimbs and forelimbs, teeth, the left dentary, gastralia, partial right ilium, and ribs. However, the total number of bones that constituted the entire skeleton of the theropod is still unknown.
Like all other dinosaurs, the Australovenator engaged in vocal exchanges that were mostly high-pitched, loud sounds and calls.
The large to medium-sized theropod of the Megaraptoridae family stood about 6.6 ft (2 m) tall when measured from the hip and grew up to 20 ft (6 m) in length. The Australovenator size was more than half the size of Velociraptor measuring only about 6.8 ft (2 m) in length. It stood 1.6 ft (0.5 m) tall at the hip.
The Australovenator is known for its agility, although the accurate speed limits of the dinosaur are unknown. The lightweight body aided in thrifty movements and running or chasing prey at high speeds. Nevertheless, it was not as swift as the modern-day ostriches.
The average weight of Australovenator wintonensis was somewhere in the range of 1,102-2,205 lb (500-1,000 kg). They were not too bulky for their size.
Neither sexes have been designated separate names and are simply called male and female dinosaurs.
Babies of dinosaurs have no unique names. However, since they hatch from eggs, they are sometimes referred to as hatchlings.
As the name of the dinosaur suggests, it was a 'southern hunter'. This predator indulged in a carnivorous diet comprising meat of both large and small animals. Did you know that in Australia, the dinosaur is hailed as the 'cheetah of its time'? This is because it's believed to be a comparatively lightweight predator that engaged in bipedal movements while preying.
It can be deduced from the predatory instincts of the species that the dinosaur displayed some amounts of aggressiveness, especially while hunting. Hostility also prevailed among these dinosaurs while establishing territories.
Are you aware that despite its carnivorous diet, the Australovenator didn't possess sharp, serrated teeth like the other tyrannosaurs? The teeth were, in fact, small, but these dinosaurs were equipped with huge arms and elongated, curved claws.
Preserved bones of the Australovenator were excavated from Winton Formation, Queensland, Australia. Fossil remains of the sauropod, Diamantinasaurus was also gathered from the same site.
The Australovenator formed packs for hunting, while it also hunted alone. Packs were preferred for preying on larger animals or dinosaurs like Muttaburrasaurus.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other creatures from our Gigantoraptor fun facts or Utahraptor facts for kids.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable dinosaur keep-out coloring pages.
*The second image was captured by Пётр Меньшиков.