A Queensland farmer has stumbled across the remains of a 100 million-year-old beast while working on his property near Nelia.
“I was out poisoning prickly Acacia and saw some objects shining in the distance,” Robert Hacon of Euraba Station said.
“At first glance I thought they were fossilised mussel shells, so I drove away. Ten minutes later, my curiosity got the better of me and I turned back.”
Much to his surprise, Mr Hacon had discovered a 1.6 metre fossilised jaw of a Kronosaurus Queenslandicus – an 11 metre long apex predator which dominated Australia’s great inland sea between 110 and 115 million years ago.
The Queenslandicus had a crocodile-like head, a body with four powerful flippers, jaws twice as powerful as those of a saltwater crocodile, and curved teeth the size of bananas.
“I’ve been looking for something like this all my life, but never thought I’d find such an amazing fossil!,” Mr Hacon said, who was quick to contact the curator of Richmond’s Kronosaurus Korner Museum, Dr. Timothy Holland.
Dr. Holland could hardly believe his eyes.
“The specimen represents the most complete mandible of a Kronosaurus Queenslandicus in the world, with most other examples being weathered, crushed or incomplete. This is the real deal,” Dr. Holland concluded.
The first recorded Kronosaurus Queenslandicus remains were discovered near Hughenden in 1899, though the most famous is a near-complete skeleton which resides in Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology after being taken from Richmond in 1932.
The Harvard specimen required one-third of its body to be replaced with plaster before being put on public display in 1959, yet this latest fossil, while only being a jaw, is in relatively good condition.
“The mandible is just so robust, measuring 18cm deep in some places. The scary thing is that this creature wasn’t even an adult when it died – it still had a lot of growing to do,” Dr. Holland said.
The fossil has been donated to the Kronosaurus Korner Museum where it will be on public display from today, and Dr. Holland couldn’t be happier.
“We are thrilled to display the specimen. It’s a timely reminder of Australia’s rich geo-heritage, and I marvel to think of what else lays waiting to be found.”
Originally published at brisbanetimes.com.au
Queensland farmer unearths 100 million-year-old monster of the seas