Article | Updated 2 years ago


Image copyright Peter Schouten

This predator with large, deadly claws is known from one of Australia’s best dinosaur fossil sites.

Australovenator was 5–6 metres long and a swift predator. It is based on the most complete skeleton of any Cretaceous meat-eating dinosaur from Australia. Its bones were found with fossilised sauropod, crocodile, turtle and fish bones as well as shells. Scientists think these animals were buried in clay at the bottom of an ancient billabong, in what is now central Queensland. At this fossil site, in the Winton Formation, dinosaur bones are being found every year.

(95 million years ago)

NORTHERN AUSTRALIA 95 million years ago

Family mystery

Australovenator belongs to the group of largeclawed carnivorous dinosaurs called megaraptors. This group has proved hard to place on the dinosaur family tree. Some scientists think they are closely related to spinosaurs, others say they are closer to allosaurs and yet others believe their closest relatives are tyrannosaurs and maniraptors. Whoever their relatives, fossils found in Queensland and Victoria, indicate megaraptors were the dominant group of meat-eating dinosaurs in Australia during the mid-Cretaceous.

Change of age

Scientists have shown that Australovenator was almost 10 million years younger than previously thought. They did this by  measuring the age of zircon grains, within the rocks of the Winton Formation that contained this fossil dinosaur. It is now believed that Australovenator was about 93 million years old.

Brown Zircon crystal

Brown Zircon crystal


Australovenator as tall as a human

Australovenator wintonensis

NAMED BY HOCKNULL et al., 2009.

Diet Animals
Height 1.6m
Length 5.0m
Width 0.7m