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FAQs About Megafauna

Did humans live at the same time as the Megafauna?

Megafauna went extinct about 20,000 years ago and existed for tens of thousands of years with the Australian Aboriginals before they went extinct, unlike dinosaurs that lived many tens of millions of years ago, long before man had evolved.

What is the difference between megafauna fossils and dinosaur fossils?

Dinosaurs are reptiles that went extinct 64 million years ago. They grew to gigantic sizes.  They lived in a time when Australia was a very different place to what it is today, and part of the ancient landmass called Gondwana. The Eromanga dinosaurs are estimated to be 95-98 million years old and lived during the late Cretaceous.

Megafauna are the group of animals that evolved after the dinosaurs died.  They were very large marsupials, reptiles and flightless birds and went extinct about 20,000 years ago.  Some of their descendants still exist today in much smaller forms such as kangaroos, wombats, komodo dragons and crocodiles.  The Eulo megafauna lived during Pleistocene approximately 50,000 to 100,000 years ago. 

What is the largest Megafauna species?

The giant rhino-sized Diprotodon  is the symbol of Australian megafauna as well as the largest marsupial ever discovered.  Beautifully preserved fossil remains from dozens of individual Diprotodon have been found from around the Eulo area. The most famous Eulo  specimen is known as ‘Kenny’ and is one of the largest of its kind.  Diprotodons had a backward facing pouch capable of carrying a single giant joey, huge tusk-like incisors and were pigeon toed.  It has been suggested that the bunyip, a  large mythical creature from Aboriginal mythology, said to lurk in swamps, billabongs, creek and waterholes, may be a cultural memory of the Diprotodon.

Why do the Eromanga dinosaurs and the Eulo Diprotodon (Megafauna) have common names like Cooper, George, Sid, Zac and Kenny?

These are identifying names we give a new important dinosaur or megafauna discovery so we know which individual we are talking about. In many cases with the dinosaurs they will be scientifically described as completely new dinosaurs and then they are given a special scientific name.  If they are not a new species then they will already have a special scientific name.  ‘Kenny’ has a scientific name already, Diprotondon optatum.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if a fossil site is discovered?

After looking at the fossils ensure all fragments are left where they were found in the field as this is crucial to discovering more bones in the same area. Do not disturb site but take a GPS reading and photos. If possible mark the site with a star picket and contact the Eromanga Natural History Museum for a scientific analysis.

Look at the ENHM on-line resources ‘How to recognise dinosaur sites in the Cooper Basin’.

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