A joint team of palaeontologists from the University of Queensland and James Cook University revealed their findings today (Monday) saying it was the most diverse such discovery in the world, adding that they had been unearthed in rocks up to 140 million years old along the coastline in the Kimberley region of western Australia.
The findings could include the discovery of the world’s biggest dinosaur prints with some measuring a sizeable 1.7 metres.
Steve Salisbury, the lead author of the article published in the Memoir of the Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology, said the find was “globally unparalleled”.
The prints are believed to be the biggest dinosaur tracks ever discovered
He said: "We've got several tracks up in that area that are about 1.7 metres long.
"So most people would be able to fit inside tracks that big, and they indicate animals that are probably around 5.3 to 5.5 metres at the hip, which is enormous."
He added: "It is extremely significant, forming the primary record of non-avian dinosaurs in the western half of the continent and providing the only glimpse of Australia's dinosaur fauna during the first half of the Early Cretaceous Period.
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It's such a magical place – Australia's own Jurassic Park, in a spectacular wilderness setting
"It's such a magical place – Australia's own Jurassic Park, in a spectacular wilderness setting.
"Among the tracks is the only confirmed evidence for stegosaurs in Australia. There are also some of the largest dinosaur tracks ever recorded."
The find could have been lost forever had the government in 2008 gone ahead with a plan to use the area for a massive liquid natural gas processing precinct.
An "unprecedented" 21 different types of dinosaur tracks have been found on in Australia
The potential plans alarmed the local Aboriginals, the Goolarabooloo people, who wanted to officially research the area as it was steeped in mythology.
Goolarabooloo official Phillip Roe said the dinosaur tracks formed part of a “songline” that extended along the coast and then inland, tracing the journey of a “Dreamtime creator” being called Marala, the Emu man.
In Aboriginal beliefs the Dreamtime is a belief system that connects the land, spirituality, law, social life and ecological concerns.
Researchers have discovered a vast quantity of dinosaur prints in Australia
While a songline is one of the paths across the land which mark the route followed by localised "creator-beings", stories that have been handed down over the generations.
Mr Roe said: "Marala was the Lawgiver. He gave country the rules we need to follow. How to behave, to keep things in balance.”
Eventually the area was given National Heritage status in 2011 and the plans for the gas project were shelved.
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Mr Salisbury said: "There are thousands of tracks around Walmadany. Of these, 150 can confidently be assigned to 21 specific track types, representing four main groups of dinosaurs.
"There were five different types of predatory dinosaur tracks, at least six types of tracks from long-necked herbivorous sauropods, four types of tracks from two-legged herbivorous ornithopods, and six types of tracks from armoured dinosaurs.
“Among the tracks is the only confirmed evidence for stegosaurs in Australia. There are also some of the largest dinosaur tracks ever recorded. Some of the sauropod tracks are around 1.7 metres long.
“Most of Australia’s dinosaur fossils come from the eastern side of the continent and are between 115 and 90 million years old. The tracks in Broome are considerably older.”