The new Australian dinosaur Fostoria.
Art by James Kuether
Compared to countries like Canada and Mongolia, the number of dinosaurs found in Australian rocks is relatively modest. A newly described species, with a unique and beautiful preservation, adds another name to this country’s list of dinosaurs.Fostoria dhimbangunmal, the new dinosaur in question, was described by former Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum paleontologist Dr. Phil Bell and colleagues in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology (Bell et al., 2019). This dinosaur is interesting to paleontologists for a number of reasons. Fostoria belongs to a group called the iguanodontians, a clade of medium to large-sized herbivores that includes the famous duck-billed dinosaurs and their earlier cousins. While iguanodontians are fairly common from mid-Cretaceous rocks in other parts of the world, particularly the northern hemisphere, precious few have been found in Australia. Fostoria helps to fill in that missing gap in the diversity of unique southern dinosaurs.We also know that Fostoria was likely a social dinosaur. Three right shoulder blades and a single left one from this species were found at the same site in New South Wales. Since the left shoulder blade didn’t match the size of any of right ones, there’s likely at least four individuals preserved at the site. Not only is this a neat view of Fostoria’s lifestyle, but this site is also Australia’s first dinosaur bonebed. Iguanodontians have long been thought of as social animals thanks to bonebeds and preserved trackways in northern locations, so finding a group of them in Australia supports this idea.There’s another feature about Fostoria that makes it all the more noteworthy. The bones of Fostoria were found in the Sheepyard opal mine by a worker there in the 1980’s before recently being brought to the attention of paleontologists, who quickly recognized their importance. The fossils were actually preserved in opal, giving them a lovely shade of blue. Other opalized fossils are known from Australia, such as a gorgeous plesiosaur specimen, but this obviously isn’t something that paleontologists find every day.Fostoria dhimbangunmal gets the parts of its name from two Australian sources- Fostoria for Robert Foster, the miner who found the species, and dhimbangunmal from the local Yuwaalaraay word for Sheepyard, the location it was found in.Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum Upcoming Events:June 15, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM: Summer Jams with Matt Patershuk. Discover dinosaurs, delicious food, and local talent!June 22, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM: Fossil ID Day. Bring your fossils along for identification.Fossil ID Day will take place in the Alliance Pipeline Education Wing. This is a free drop-in event, admission to the Museum is extra.June 22, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM: Lecture Series with Paul Hvenegaard – Monitoring the Bull Trout Spawning Run in Lynx CreekJune 29, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM: Summer Jams with Lacy KrolTry your hand at working with real dinosaur bones. The Fossil Preparation Lab Volunteer program is running Tuesdays-Thursdays and the first Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Fridays from 1–7 p.m. For a posted schedule, see dinomuseum.ca/programs/public-programs/fossil-preparation-lab/.