Opalised velociraptor tooth Click to enlarge image
Opalised velociraptor tooth from the museum Palaeontology collection. Image: Abram Powell
© Australian Museum

The Australian theropod fossil record is extremely limited. Triassic and Jurassic theropod body fossils are completely unknown on this continent. Most Australian theropod fossils come from the Early to Late Cretaceous, largely because sedimentary rocks of this age far more productive for fossils in Australia

Footprint evidence

Trackways - the preserved footprints of dinosaurs and other species can help fill gaps in the fossil record when body fossils are rare. Theropod footprints from the Late Triassic to Middle Jurassic are known from Queensland. Theropod footprints are also known from Late Cretaceous of Queensland. These include the prints of theropod ichnospecies (species based on trace fossils) Skartopus and Tyrannosauropus from the Lark Quarry ‘dinosaur stampede’ near Winton.

Doubtful species and recent discoveries

Many Australian theropods may be nomen dubia (species of doubtful validity). These include Ozraptor subotai, Kakuru kujani, Walgettosuchus woodwardi and Timimus hermani. These species, named on the basis of a single fragmentary bone, lack diagnostic features that can distinguish them from other theropod species. The discovery of Australovenator from Winton and another large megaraptorid from Lightning Ridge, represent the first Australian theropods known from more complete fossil remains, therefore there are both highly significant discoveries.