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New Dinosaur Fossils Uncovered at Opal Mine

Image Credit: James Kuether/Smithsonian Magazine

A new species of dinosaur may have been discovered at an unearthed opal mine near New South Wales in Australia.

The fossil remains have been opalized due to their extended stay inside the mines.

In a statement, paleontologist Phil Bell from the University of New England says that when he and his colleagues first took a look the fossils, they thought they belonged to a previously discovered dinosaur.

However, upon further study, the team realized that it was an entirely new species named Fostoria, an herbivore that belonged to the same group as iguanodons. Bell says, “We initially assumed it was a single skeleton, but when I started looking at some of the bones, I realized that we had four scapulae (shoulder blades) all from different sized animals.”

Bell also adds, “There are about 60 opalized bones from one adult dinosaur, including part of the braincase, and bones from at least another three animals.”

The fossils were initially discovered way back in the 1980s, where 80 more of them were eventually discovered. An opal miner named Bob Foster took them to the Australian Museum in Sydney, Australia and was accompanied back to the mine by a team of paleontologists.

“Fostoria has given us the most complete opalized dinosaur skeleton in the world. Partial skeletons of extinct swimming reptiles have been found at other Australian opal fields, but for opalised dinosaurs we generally have only a single bone or tooth, or in rare instances, a few bones,” Jenni Brammall, a palaeontologist who authored the study, says. “To recover dozens of bones from the one skeleton is a first.”