Polar Dinosaurs

Article | Updated 10 years ago

an artist’s impression of what Cretaceous polar dinosaurs may have looked like
Downy dinosaurs

South-eastern Australia was once located near the South Pole and this impacted on the dinosaurs living there.

During the Cretaceous, the land that is now the southern Victorian coast was quite close to the South Pole. While the climate back then was warmer than it is today, this area still would have been freezing cold during long, winter nights. The mix of dinosaurs living in this area was unusual, with most species being small plant-eaters. Given their small size it is unlikely that they undertook annual migrations to escape the polar winter. Evidence indicates they dug burrows for shelter, which may have given them a competitive advantage over other dinosaurs.

Polar rift

Around 125–105 million years ago, Australia continued to slowly separate away from Antarctica. By this time the deep opening, called a rift valley, that started to form along the southern coast of Australia early in the Cretaceous included southern Victoria where these polar dinosaurs were living.