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Dinosaurs Once-in A Lifetime Fossil Saved from Australian Floods

Steve Poropat, a paleontologist at Swinburne University in Melbourne says the footprints were saved from recent monsoonal flooding in Queensland.

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Fossils
A small dinosaur fossil is seen in this undated handout photo from Australian customs. The largest-ever haul of illegally exported fossils was formally handed back from the Australian Government to the Chinese Government during a ceremony in Perth, Sept. 30, 2005. VOA

A team of Australian paleontologists and volunteers has saved a once-in a lifetime fossil discovery from devastating floods in Queensland state.

The dinosaur tracks give a rare insight into an ancient world. Found on an outback farm near the Queensland town of Winton, 1,100 kms from Brisbane, they are estimated to be almost 100 million years old.

The footprints are stamped into a large slab of sandstone rock, and were made by a sauropod, a giant creature with a long neck and tail, and by two smaller dinosaurs. Some of the footprints are up to a meter wide and come from the Cretaceous period.

Scientists were alerted to the danger posed to this remarkable collection when it was partly damaged by severe flooding last year.

For three weeks scientists and volunteers worked to carefully dig up and relocate the dinosaur tracks.

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Scientists were alerted to the danger posed to this remarkable collection when it was partly damaged by severe flooding last year. Pixabay

They are being stored at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum in Winton, where they will eventually go on display.

David Elliott is the museum’s executive chairman.

“We really want to preserve the integrity of the tracks. We do not want to just tear them up and go and lock them on the ground somewhere. You know, they have to be done a certain way. We cannot just leave it here because that is, you know, [a] find of a lifetime.”

Dinosaur tracks are rare in Australia.

Steve Poropat, a paleontologist at Swinburne University in Melbourne says the footprints were saved from recent monsoonal flooding in Queensland.

“The imperative was to get those soft footprints out of the ground because they just would not have lasted in another flood now that they have been fully exposed. To get it all out of the ground, to ma

fossils
The dinosaur tracks give a rare insight into an ancient world. Found on an outback farm near the Queensland town of Winton, 1,100 kms from Brisbane, they are estimated to be almost 100 million years old. Pixabay

ke sure that it is safe from future floods is fantastic,” he said.

 

Monsoonal rains in Queensland have caused chaos, flooding hundreds of homes and drowning several hundred thousand livestock. Officials said it was a one-in-100-year event, and they have warned it could take years to rebuild the local cattle industry.

Also Read: Frequent High-Tide Flooding May Affect Coastal Communities’ Economy

As the floodwaters recede on land, they are polluting parts of the Great Barrier Reef. Experts say plumes of polluted water are stretching up to 60 kms from the coast, putting more pressure on coral that has suffered mass bleaching in recent years. When ocean temperatures increase, corals can expel the algae that live in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white.

The Great Barrier Reef is Australia’s greatest natural treasure and stretches 2,300 kms down Australia’s northeast coastline. (VOA)

Next Story

Marine Animals Can Help Humans Monitor Oceans: Study

A new study found that certain species of animals can help humans monitor oceans

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Oceans
Animals such as sharks, penguins, turtles and other seagoing species could help humans monitor oceans. Pixabay

Sharks, penguins, turtles and other seagoing species could help humans monitor the oceans by transmitting oceanographic information from electronic tags, a new study suggests.

A team led by the University of Exeter in UK said animals carrying sensors can fill many of these gaps through natural behaviour such as diving under ice, swimming in shallow water or moving against currents.

“We want to highlight the massive potential of animal-borne sensors to teach us about the oceans,” said lead author David March from the University.

“This is already happening on a limited scale, but there’s scope for much more,” March said.

Thousands of marine animals are tagged for a variety of research and conservation purposes, but at present the information gathered isn’t widely used to track climate change and other shifts in the oceans.

Monitoring oceans
These species can monitor the ocean by transmitting oceanographic information from electronic tags. Pixabay

Instead, monitoring is mostly done by research vessels, underwater drones and thousands of floating sensors that drift with the currents. However, large areas of the ocean still remain under-sampled – leaving gaps in our knowledge.

By comparing this with gaps in current observations by drifting profiling sensors (known as Argo floats) the researchers identified poorly sampled areas where data from animal sensors would help fill gaps.

“We looked at 183 species – including tuna, sharks, rays, whales and flying seabirds – and the areas they are known to inhabit. We have processed more than 1.5 million measurements from floating sensors to identify poorly sampled areas (18.6% of the global ocean surface),” March added.

These include seas near the poles (above 60º latitude) and shallow and coastal areas where Argo profilers are at risk of hitting the land.

Animals in oceans
Data collected by marine animals could also enhance oceans monitoring in other remote and critical areas such as tropical regions. Pixabay

According to the researchers, the Caribbean and seas around Indonesia, as well as other semi-enclosed seas, are good examples of places where Argo profilers struggle because of these problems.

Tagged seals in the poles have already complemented ocean observing systems because they can reach areas under ice that are inaccessible to other instruments.

Also Read- Consumption of Coffee May Reduce MetS: Study

The study, published in the journal Global Change Biology, suggests data collected by turtles or sharks could also enhance ocean monitoring in other remote and critical areas such as tropical regions, with large influence on global climate variability and weather.

The researchers said their work is a call for further collaboration between ecologists and oceanographers. (IANS)