Palaeontologists have discovered a new carnivorous dinosaur — the largest carnivorous dinosaur yet known from Australia and only the second known from more than a single bone — that roamed in Australia about 110 million years ago.
Dubbed “Lightning Claw”, the seven-metre-long new species with sickle-shaped claws the size of chef’s knives was unearthed in the opal town of Lightning Ridge, New South Wales.
“Lightning claw” predates the oldest known megaraptorid found in Australia – Australovenator — by 10 million years.
“I immediately recognised this fossil was something new. When I compared it to other Australian and South American dinosaurs, it was clear it was a megaraptorid which is relatively rare group of dinosaurs, mostly known from Argentina,” explained palaeontologist Dr Phil Bell from University of New England.
The skeleton consists of a foot bone, parts of the hip, ribs, forearm, and a giant claw from the hand.
The hand claw would have been approximately 25cm in length and would have been used like a grappling hook to catch its prey.
“What is fascinating about this discovery is it changes the popular notion that Australian dinosaurs came from ancestors derived from Africa and South America — instead the “Lightning Claw” appears to be the ancestor of all megaraptorids, meaning this group appeared first in Australia,” Dr Bell said in a university statement.
The bones come from the Early Cretaceous period and are close to 110 million years old.