Melbourne: Palaeontologists claim to have unearthed fossils of at least seven different killer dinosaurs which once lived in what is now southeastern Australia.
A team from Monash University and Museum Victoria says it has uncovered a higher than expected biodiversity of meat- eating, theropod (bird-like) dinosaur fossils from between 105 and 120 million years ago.
"We had not expected to find fossils from such a large range of dinosaur species in this area. The fossils we have collected range from tiny, cat-sized killers to Australia`s version of T Rex, a nine-metre-long predator with powerful arms and razor-sharp claws.
"In total 1500 isolated bones and teeth of various kinds of dinosaurs have been found in Victoria, Australia so far. Their meaning is only beginning to be unravelled by detailed study and comparisons with other fossils worldwide," Dr Tom Rich, who led the team, said.
At the time these dinosaurs ruled, southern Australia was part of the Antarctic Circle. Despite the cold, there was a high diversity of small predators, similar to the Velociraptor featured in Jurassic Park.
"One of the reasons for the success of small, theropod dinosaurs may be their warm-blood. As close relatives of birds, they had feathery insulation which helped maintain high body temperatures.
"The cool, damp climate may also explain the discovery of the same dinosaur species in both Australia and the northern continents," Dr Rich said.
The findings, published in the `PLoS ONE` journal by University of Cambridge researchers is actually focused on the discovery of these meat-eating theropod dinosaurs.