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Assorted Australian theropod stories



Here's a couple of Australian theropod-related stories that have cropped
up in newspapers down here, of species both past and present. Ah,
newspapers! - set your misinformation meters to "maximum tolerance".
Grammatical errors have been preserved as published. Snide comments in
square brackets are mine.

--

Herald Sun, Friday, August 16, 2002
Australia home to giant wombats, kangaroos, and now... THE MOTHER OF ALL
GEESE
By MICHELLE POUNTNEY, science reporter

GIANT geese once honked and waddled across the plains of
central Australia.

The monster birds, weighing up to half a tonne, roamed about eight
millon years ago.

Palaeontologists from the Museum of Central Australia have found fossils
from three species of giant geese among 3000 bones in a dinosaurs'
graveyard in the Northern Territory.

The largest stood 3m tall, while the smaller birds were 2.4m and weighed
up to 200kg.

Museum of Central Australia assistant director Dr Peter Murray said the
birds' remains were found among the bones of other prehistoric animals.

They uncovered bones from about eight individuals of one species and
about five individuals of the other.

Three weeks ago, palaeontologists at the remote Alcoota site, 80km from
Alice Springs, found the largest concentration of the smaller species
ever found.

"Anatomically, they're virtually identical to geese," Dr Murray said.

"I think they would have sounded like geese, they probably would have
honked and squawked something like geese and they certainly would have
looked a bit like geese.

"We have always found these geese, but a couple of these smaller species
we don't know very much about and they seem to have more cropped up in a
rather large concentration.
  [bad grammar alert]

"It's like a big jigsaw puzzle of bones pieces out there."
  [alert still pending]

Palaeontologists are now searching the Alcoota site for a skull from the
smaller birds.

"One of them is a remarkable thing because it looks almost identical to
an ostrich, but has characteristics of these goose-like birds.

"It has converged, evolved as an ostrich but is a very fast running
goose."

The larger birds had skulls about 56cm long with a powerful deep bill.

Specimens of the legs of each of the three species at the site also
reveal they had hoof-type feet rather than webbed talons.

Scientists believe the larger birds died together as a result of
drought.

"As the smaller water plains dried out, the geese concentrated around
the last few remaining holes."

Their theory also alters the assumption that central Australia of eight
million years ago was a forested area covered in vegetation with a
wetter environment than today.
  [Yep - forested AND covered with vegetation]

Scientists have also found many species of megafauna, or giant
marsupials, at Alcoota.

--

Also from the esteemed Melbourne Herald-Sun
Emu plague hits farms
By DANNY BUTTLER, rural reporter

FARMERS are preparing for a new wave of devastation from starving emus.

Drought has driven huge flocks of the flightless birds across the Murray
River in search of food.

Thousands more are reported to be heading south to escape New South
Wales.

Grain and sheep farmer Brian Roads said his family's properties along
the Murray River near Mildura had been invaded by the destructive birds.

[picture of extremely evil looking emu]

"They're stuffing up the fences and they eat the sheep feed so we'll
probably end up having to get rid of the sheep," Mr Roads said.

The Victorian Farmers Federation wants the State Government to consider
a cull of emus and kangaroos, which it claims are causing millions of
dollars of damage to farms.

The Government ruled out culls, but said farmers could be granted
permits to kill native animals on their own property.

A spokesman for Environment Minister Sherryl Garbutt, George Svigos,
said the Government was considering establishing a statewide forum on
the kangaroo and emu issue.

-- 
________________________________________________________________

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