Austrosaurus (Greek for "southern lizard"); pronounced AW-stro-SORE-us
Woodlands of Australia
Early Cretaceous (110-100 million years ago)
Size and Weight:
About 50-60 feet long and 15-20 tons
Large size; long neck and tail
The story of Austrosaurus' discovery sounds like something out of a screwball comedy of the 1930's: a passenger on an Australian train noticed some strange fossils along the tracks, then notified the nearest stationmaster, who ensured that the specimen wound up in the nearby Queensland Museum. At the time, the appropriately named Austrosaurus ("southern lizard") was only the second sauropod (specifically, a titanosaur) to be discovered in Australia, after the much earlier Rhoetosaurus of the middle Jurassic period. Since this dinosaur's remains were found in an area rich in plesiosaur fossils, Austrosaurus was once assumed to have spent most of its life underwater, using its long neck to breath like a snorkel!