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Flat Rocks Site Report 2002



Yep, it's that time of year again. Although I couldn't make it to the
annual Friends of Dinosaur Dreaming night at Monash University, I just
received this year's site report in the mail. So here goes...

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FLAT ROCKS 2002: INVERLOCH, S.E. AUSTRALIA (115 MYA)

For a map of localities see:
http://www.alphalink.com.au/~dannj/vicsites.gif

First off, the cover of the site report has Peter Trusler's preliminary
painting of the labyrinthodont *Koolasuchus cleelandi*. The original
will be close to life-size (which has been down-graded from "4-5 metres"
to "3 metres") and will grace the walls of the new Monash Science Centre
which opened earlier this year. For those of you not familiar with
Trusler's work, see:
http://www.adm.monash.edu.au/pa/photoline/dinos.html . I consider him to
be Australia's second best dinosaur artist (I'm afraid I prefer Tony
Windberg's style - but hey, that's just me).

Another year, another 1000 catalogued specimens. This year the
excavation moved from the main stream channel to the shallow edges,
where they hoped to find some articulated material where the water flow
was less extreme. Ah, the best layed plans... They did however find two
more partial mammals jaws. One has been identified as a second specimen
of the montoreme *Teinolophos*, and the second seems to be another
*Bishops*. The brain case of a very small (smaller than you'd expect
even for an Ausktribosphenid) skull was found, which may be mammalian
(or almost anything else), and some possible mammalian limb elements
were also recovered.

Dr Tom Rich included a brief essay entitled "Affinities of the
Ausktribosphenidae: 5 years on". Basically he says that they are either
placental mammals or they're not, and that we need some post-crania
before saying any more.

Did I hear someone mention turtles? No? Well, a partial turtle skull has
been found that may prove diagnostic enough to describe and name. We've
already got *Chelycarapookus arcuatus* (my favourite all-time genera
name) from the Merino Group, and *Otwayemys cunicularius* from Dinosaur
Cove. It would be nice to put a name to all those turtle fragments from
the Stzrelecki Group as well.  As usual, lots of fish remains turned
up. In stream channel deposits? Who'd-a thunk it.

Again as usual, they had hypsilophodontid bones coming out of the
whazoo. A lower jaw that is much more gracile than that of *Qantassaurus
intrepidus* turned up, indicating more than one species in the area
(unless *Qantassaurus* is amazingly dimorphic). Hypsie femurs also
abound.

And what of theropods? Lots more shed teeth. They have the same pattern
of denticles on just the back edge as most of the other theropod teeth
previously recovered. Phil Currie has been studying those of previous
seasons, and concludes that at least three different genera of small to
medium sized theropods were present. One of this years teeth had most of
its enamel missing, and may have been swallowed by the animal, taking a
"magical mystery tour" that only those who've seen *Scipionyx* up close
can imagine.

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In non-Flat Rocks news:

After careful research it appears that Australia's first dinosaur bone,
the Cape Patterson claw (found about 1km from Flat Rocks) was found in
April 1903. Accordingly, Tom Rich plans to celebrate the centenary of
Australian dinosaur discoveries in April next year.

An amateur fossil prospector turned up a partial theropod vertebra near
Kilcunda that should prove diagnostic enough to narrow down what group
of theropods it belongs to. Apparently it represents either a
"medium-sized" or "large" theropod, depending who you speak to. So, what
- three to five metres in total length? A large turtle fragment of both
carapace and plastron was found in the same area. 

More labyrinthodont bones were found around San Remo, including a rib, a
skull fragment, and a vertebra.

Apparently during a re-survey of the Otway sites (around Dinosaur Cove),
a promising new site was found, which included an ankylosaur rib and a
large vertebra of unknown affinities. Just what we need in Victoria -
more dinosaur sites! What, about seventeen isn't enough? (and that
figure lumps Dinosaur Cove East, D.C.West, and Slippery Rocks together).

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________________________________________________________________

Dann Pigdon                   Australian Dinosaurs:
GIS / Archaeologist         http://www.geocities.com/dannsdinosaurs
Melbourne, Australia        http://www.alphalink.com.au/~dannj/
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