Aussie Farmers Unleash Dinosaur Rush as Fossils Rewrite History

It took a moment to spot the fragment, initially: fist-size and unnaturally smooth, nestled between shrubs teeming with burrs in an endless expanse of arid plains. But after the first, the others were easier to pick out, gleaming dirty white against the red earth and run through with a honeycomb texture.

Dinosaur bones.

“They’re bloody everywhere,” marveled Matt Herne, curator of the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum. About an hour’s drive from the town of Winton, he was inspecting the fossils for the couple who had found them, farmers whose property stretched as far as the eye could see in all directions. (The couple requested anonymity, not wanting the attention that would come if it were known that bones were on their property.)

“It’s spongy bone. Just like a sheared steak bone,” Mr. Herne said. “These fragments are telling us that they’ve probably come up from something underneath, and it’s probably quite a large animal.”

For as long as paleontologists have been looking, dinosaur fossils were extraordinarily rare in Australia, and the continent was a missing piece in scientists’ understanding of dinosaurs globally. But it is now experiencing a dinosaur boom, with a flurry of discoveries made over the past two decades that is rewriting the country’s fossil record.

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