Dinosaur Discoveries

Dinosaurs from South America, India, and Australia

Huene's Trossingen studies brought him worldwide recognition and stimulated interest in dinosaurs everywhere, including South America. Commandante Buratovich at Neuquén was the first to discover dinosaurs in Argentina in 1882. The Museum of La Plata, which stored many of the fossils, invited Huene to work on the collection.

In 1936, an expedition sponsored by the Museum of Comparative Zoology of Harvard University went to the Santa Maria Formation of Rio Grande do Sul. Headed by Llewellyn Ivor Price and Theodore E. White, the prospectors brought back a large collection of fossils that included the partial skeleton of Staurikosaurus pricei. It was described by Edwin Colbert in 1970. Scientists consider this the oldest known "true" dinosaur.

Price remained in Brazil, and his work inspired a generation of native South American paleontologists. Among these was Osvaldo A. Reig of the Institut Lillo of Tucuman in Argentina. Reig worked in the Ischigualasto Valley in the San Juan Province, where goat farmer Victorino Herrera found dinosaur remains slightly younger than Staurikosaurus. The Talampaya-Ischigualasto region is a remote, forbidding desert in central Argentina. In 1958, Alfred Sherwood Romer and Bryan Patterson uncovered reptile fossils from a period when dinosaurs were establishing themselves. In 1963, Reig described the primitive dinosaurs Herrerasaurus and Ischisaurus, which opened a hidden chapter of dinosaur evolution.

In 1958, Sohan Lall Jain, Tapan K. Roy-Chowdhury, and Pamela Lamplugh Robinson led an expedition in India. They located dinosaur bones near where the River Pranhita joins the River Godavari. Known as the Kota Formation, the rocks are layers of limestone, "fossilized" lake remains nearly 200 million years old. A rich bone bed excavated in 1961 yielded bones of several specimens of a new large, long-necked plant-eater, Barapasaurus tagorei. Also found was Kotasaurus yamanpalliensis, another plant-eater.

Although Australia has yielded other fascinating reptile fossils, the dinosaur record remains fragmentary. The first dinosaur remains discovered in Australia were a claw and some leg bones. In 1891, Seeley described a new sheep-size dinosaur, Agrosaurus macgillivrayi, a small relative of Plateosaurus.

Workers found more dinosaur fossil pieces later at Cape Paterson in Victoria and at Lightning Ridge in Queensland. In 1932, Huene wrote up the Lightning Ridge specimens as three new dinosaurs: Rapator, Walgettosuchus, and Fulgurotherium.

In the late 1920s, two partial skeletons of large, long-necked plant-eating dinosaurs turned up. Paleontologist Heber A. Longman named them Rhoetosaurus and Austrosaurus.