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Dinosaur Cove
Dinosaur Cove is located in Victoria
Dinosaur Cove
Dinosaur Cove
Location in Victoria
During the Cretaceous the site (red boxes) was within the Antarctic Circle
Location The Otways, Victoria
Coordinates 38°46′48″S 143°24′18″E / 38.78000°S 143.40500°E / -38.78000; 143.40500Coordinates: 38°46′48″S 143°24′18″E / 38.78000°S 143.40500°E / -38.78000; 143.40500[1]
Type Bay
Basin countries Australia

The Dinosaur Cove in Victoria, Australia is a fossil-bearing site in south-east of the continent where the Otway Ranges meet the sea to the west of Cape Otway, adjacent to Great Otway National Park (map).[2] The inaccessible ocean-front cliffs include fossil-bearing strata that date back to about 106 million years ago and has provided discoveries important in research of natural history of dinosaurs in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere as a whole.

Geological time-line[edit]

During the Early Cretaceous the location was a flood plain within a great rift valley that formed as Australia started to separate northward from Antarctica. Sand, mud and silt deposits covered and sometimes preserved the remains of dead animals and plants. As the rift valley sank, the deposits were overlaid by sediment, which turned to rock under pressure. In the last 30 million years the sediments have been uplifted to form the Otway Ranges and Strzelecki Ranges, bringing them near the surface again.

The richest find of petrified dinosaur bones is confined to narrow thin (up to 0.3 m) layers, most likely ancient stream beds serving as repositories of the bones of smaller animals.

History of discovery[edit]

In 1903, geologist William Hamilton Ferguson was mapping the rocky coastal outcrops a few kilometres west of Inverloch and uncovered the first dinosaur fossil ever discovered in Australia.[3] 75 years later, the exploration and excavation of the Dinosaur Cove site was conducted by teams of volunteers overseen by Thomas H. Rich and Patricia Rich. The dinosaur taxa, Leaellynasaura amicagraphica and Timimus hermani, are named for the children of the Riches', Tim and Leaellyn. Heavy mining equipment and dynamite was used to blast away overlying strata to uncover the fossiliferous rock layers in the cliff face.[3]

Over geological time since, the rock was pushed so deep that heat and pressure hardened it much, before it came again to the surface. As a result, a common way to look for fossils in it was to break each lump with a sledgehammer, and after each blow to examine all new broken surfaces for cross-sections of bone. Any pieces that showed bone were sent to the laboratory to extract the bone by careful preparation.

In the 1980s and 90s Dinosaur Cove yielded hypsilophodontid-like dinosaurs as Leaellynasaura amicagraphica and Atlascopcosaurus loadsi, and a Coelurosaur, as well as fragments of what may be a caenagnathid (relatives of the Oviraptors). One fossil from this diverse taxa, collectively called the "polar dinosaurs of Australia", has been interpreted as showing possible adaptations to vision in low light conditions and possibly were warm-blooded; this has been suggested as an explanation for how some of these dinosaurs foraged for food during the polar winter months. It is worth noting that although these dinosaurs lived at polar latitudes, the Cretaceous climate was significantly milder than today, so temperatures within the Antarctic and Arctic Circles were vastly different from the climate at these latitudes today, because the lopsided arrangements of the continents made sea currents and monsoon winds blow across the polar areas and not round and round them, and so stopped cold pools from developing around the poles.

An astragalus bone of an ancient relative of Allosaurus was discovered at the site, making it the first discovery in the southern hemisphere. [4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Dinosaur Cove (VIC)". Gazetteer of Australia online. Geoscience Australia, Australian Government. 
  2. ^ "Dinosaur Cove", Victorian Resources Online (Department of Primary Industries), 31 December 2009, retrieved 2011-02-21 
  3. ^ a b Rich, Thomas H. "The Discovery of Dinosaur Cove". Museum Victoria. Retrieved January 2010. 
  4. ^ Piper, Kylie. "T-Rex Relative Turns Up Down Under". Australian Geographic. Retrieved 26 March 2010. 

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83 news items

Business Insider Australia

Business Insider Australia
Tue, 14 Jul 2015 22:06:37 -0700

Greg Denney, who was born and raised on the property, came back to it in his mid-20s to find a corner of it inhabited by excited dinosaur academics. For 10 years, between 1984 and 1994, “Dinosaur Cove” gained worldwide fame following the discovery of ...

Geelong Advertiser

Geelong Advertiser
Fri, 10 Jul 2015 15:21:33 -0700

The home base to one of Australia's most historically significant dinosaur bone excavations, a decade-long dig at Dinosaur Cove on the southwest coast of the state is on the market with hopes of unearthing a $1.125 million price tag. The sprawling ...

Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald
Wed, 03 Jun 2015 18:07:30 -0700

See the contribution made to this undoubtedly creative field by Tom Rich, of Melbourne Museum, whose work with Patricia Vickers-Rich and colleagues at Dinosaur Cove, in the Otways, is acknowledged. And discover the work of other leaders in the field ...


Tue, 29 Oct 2013 11:37:37 -0700

A new paper in the journal Paleontology details the discovery of 100-million-year-old fossilized bird footprints at Dinosaur Cove in Victoria, Australia. These fossilized tracks are the oldest of their kind to have thus far been discovered in this part ...

The Age

The Age
Sat, 28 Feb 2015 08:30:00 -0800

Dinosaur Dreaming, a community organisation run by Rich and other palentologists, has been running digs with volunteers for about 20 years, spending much of that time at the aptly-named Dinosaur Cove, near Cape Otway. After their earlier excavation at ...

Kidzworld Media

Kidzworld Media
Mon, 04 Jan 2010 14:30:00 -0800

This exciting new series of books by author Rex Stone stars Jamie and Tom, who discover a world of adventure in Dinosaur Cove, home to dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes, some friendly, some ferocious! Whatever your fave dino, you'll find it in Dinosaur ...

CBS News

CBS News
Tue, 22 Sep 2015 09:18:45 -0700

In recent decades, paleontologists digging at a site in Australia known as Dinosaur Cove, at the country's southeastern tip, found dinosaurs that were well adapted to colder conditions, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Known as polar dinosaurs ...


Thu, 24 Sep 2015 10:28:27 -0700

Similar to Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis, paleontologists working on a site in Australia known as Dinosaur Cove also discovered remains of different species of dinosaurs that were able to adapt to colder environments. According to the data from the U.S. ...

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