The Flat Rocks fossil site at Inverloch is located approximately 150 km south-east of Melbourne, on the south coast of Victoria. The area has special significance to Australia’s fossil history as the discovery of Australia’s first dinosaur bone, the Cape Paterson Claw, was found at a nearby site in 1903 by William Ferguson. The currently active site was discovered in 1991 when a group of researchers from Monash University and Museum Victoria were prospecting that part of the coastline for suitable locations for potential fossil dig sites. The dinosaur dreaming project annually does fossil hunts. According to the museum Victoria website they are no longer taking volunteers.
On a whim I took my daughter who is dinosaur mad out to the region.
The Many-legged Myriapods
Whilst centipedes and millipedes have jaw-like mandibles on their heads for feeding like insects and crustaceans, they are classified in their own Arthropod subphylum: the Myriapoda. In additional to centipedes (Class Chilopoda) and millipedes (Class Diplopoda), the Myriapoda also includes two other little- known microscopic classes: symphalans (Class Symphyla) and pauropodans (Class Pauropoda).
Myriapods are immediately recognizable by their long, segmented bodies, with each segment possessing one or two pairs of jointed legs. The name Myriapoda is derived from Greek murias meaning ten thousand, + Latin pod meaning foot. As the name of this group suggests, these animals have a myriad of legs but whilst nowadays a ‘myriad’ denotes something countless or extremely great in number, a myriad classically referred to a unit of ten thousand – and no myriapod even comes close to possessing this many legs. Actually, some myriapod species have as few as 10 legs in total. The record for the greatest number of legs is held by a species of millipede: Illacme plenipes, which has 750 legs. This extremely rare, species of millipede is restricted to a tiny area in California. Illacme plenipes was thought to be extinct as it had not been seen for over 80 years since its initial discovery, and was only rediscovered in 2008. Illacme plenipes not only has the greatest number of legs of all myriapods, but also in fact holds the world record for the greatest number of legs of any animal! During locomotion, the legs move in waves that travel down the length of the body. It’s amazing that they can travel, often considerably rapidly, without getting all those legs tangled up! Their coordination is quite remarkable.
Originally found in 1996 near Inverloch at dinosaur cove. The find was part of a dig by Monash University and Museum of Victoria. An original jaw bone has provided some amazing clues to the now called Qantassaurus intrepidus. The bones are believed to be from 115 million years ago. See original article Volume 1 no 2.
The jaw is slightly stubby, likely to be around 2 meters high. It ran on two legs and fed on plants.
The replicas of this dinosaur are available at Museum Victoria and Australian Museum in Sydney. It was called Qantassaurus after the Australian airline Qantas which had shipped fossils all over the country for a prior exhibit.
This show is a must-see for wildlife lovers because it provides such a great context for the wildlife we currently see on the planet today. In particular, questions around the evolution of birds from dinosaurs, egg laying versus birth of live young, protective adaptations, symbiotic relationships amongst species and much more.
While many dinosaurs look nothing like animals in existence today, many are remarkably similar to species still found. These include many reptiles such as crocodiles and lizards as well as aquatic animals like sharks that have changed little over millions of years.
The last ten years has seen an extraordinary amount of unique fossil finds, mainly in new sites in China and Mongolia. The BBC take this as a focus point for their presentation, relaying the magnitute of the finds through amazing recreations of the likely scenarios the dinosaurs can be found in. These might include intra-species fighting (as evidenced by a fossil tooth of a dinsoaur lodged in a member of its own species), feeding, hunting and breeding.
These recent finds have apparently turned the tables on the previous limits of dinsoaur knowledge, finding as many new species of dinosaurs as there were known beforehand. In addition, the interactions and attributes of many dinsoaurs have been inferred through some remarkable fossil discoveries.
The subsequent recreations of the dinosaur world from the BBC are made all the more remarkable through the use of modern CGI graphics, which bring to life a wide mixture of dinosaurs in very realistic reproductions. Dinsosaurs run like you would expect them to do, pteradactyls fly like you would imagine!
With an extraordinary ability to infer things like skin colouration (explained through pigmentation finds in fossils), the reconstructions are extremely life like and, one gets the impression from the authority of the show, probably very close to how they were actually.
This show is highly recommended due both to the amazing presentation and the realisation that the scientific substance of these recent finds needs to be made public. Like many viewers of the show, my knowledge of the subject matter was shown to be horribly inadequate in light of the gap of knowledge since my indoctrinaation into the dinosaur world from high school days.