Until quite recently, finds of dinosaurs in Australia have been few and far between. The first find of an Australian dinosaur was a partial skeleton found on Cape York. Later named Agrosaurus, this small plant-eater from the triassic period was found during an exploration of the area by HMS Fly. A large claw of a meat-eating dinosaur was found near Inverloch, Victoria around the turn of the Century and bones of a long-necked sauropod dinosaur, Rhoetosaurus, were found near Roma in Queensland in the 1930s. Other dinosaurs include a plant-eater similar to Iguanodon that was later named Muttaburrasaurus and a small armoured dinosaur named Minmi.

It was not until the 1980s and 1990s that significant numbers of dinosaurs began to be excavated from Australia. These principally came from excavations at Dinosaur Cove in Victoria and Lightning Ridge in New South Wales. Most of these fossils are from dinosaurs that are new to science and are still being studied.


Cenozoic Australia[]

Millions of years ago, well after it had separated itself from South America and Antarctica, Australia was still teaming with life, and the centre was a lush maze of woodlands and rain forests. It was the age of the mammals, and there was a wide variety, many of which were quite unique. Marsupials, common everywhere 120 million years ago, had become the dominant order of mammals in Australia, something that did not occur elsewhere. Marsupials (which give birth prematurely due to poorly developed placentas and suckle the young in the pouch) lost out to placental mammals everywhere but Australia. The sabre-tooth marsupial cats of South America could not compete in the end with their placental counterparts; now there is only the small genus of caenolestes (rat opossums) left. Of all of Northern America's marsupials, opossums are the sole survivors. A few small marsupials persist in isolated Malaysian and Indonesian islands, and in Papua New Guinea, but it is in Australia that they triumphed.

There even developed a different type of marsupial known as the monotreme. These are egg-laying mammals that suckle their young. There are only two animals that are monotremes in the whole world, and they live in Australia. They are, of course, the platypus and the echidna. Both are related from a common ancestor at least a million years ago. There may have been, at one time, other species of montreme, but there is no record. Marsupials continued to diversify, adapting forms similar to their placental counterparts in Eurasia and the Americas. Marsupial cats, moles, dogs, etc, began to appear, free from competition. These evolved to fill niches that placental animals occupied elsewhere - cats and dogs, for example. Marsupial mice play the same role as other mice, and Kangaroos fill the niche occupied by deer on other continents.

But the marsupials got much bigger in Australia than anywhere else, the largest (in terms of weight) being Diprotodon. This was a wombat-like creature often the size of a hippo or rhinoceros, but covered with fur. Early Aborigines hunted this animal thousands of years ago, and it is possible they hunted it (like others) to extinction. Kangaroos, which can grow taller than 2 metres (Red Kangaroos), used to be taller than 3m such as Procoptodon. They had short snouts compared to today, and were at one stage carnivorous. So at one period of their evolution, kangaroos as tall as houses chased other animals for food. This may seem strange, but it has to be remembered that even deer were carnivorous at one time as well. There even exists today a small species of deer that still sports two fangs which protrude from the top jaw. However, these kangaroos stopped being carnivorous while still in that form, and they in turn became prey to the marsupial cats and dogs. All kangaroos evolved from this huge macropod.

Wombats came in two distinct species thousands of years ago. The larger ones were much bigger than pigs, while the small ones were as they are today. The small ones survived as they needed less food. Other large marsupials existed in those days as well, but certain factors spelt the beginning of their demise. It is now apparent that the Aborigines did damage to certain areas with their agricultural techniques, such as burning off. Humans, placental mammals, had made their way into Australia over 40,000 years ago. However, this is seen as a conservative estimate by many, and certain artefacts have been dated to about 100,000 years.

Now here is a list of prehistoric animals from Australia:



  • Alkwertatherium
  • Ausktribosphenidae
  • Australonycteris
  • Badjcinus
  • Balbaridae
  • Barinya
  • Brachalletes
  • Brachipposideros
  • Diprotodon
  • Djarthia
  • Ekaltadeta
  • Euryzygoma
  • Ganguroo
  • Giant Koala
  • Glaucodon
  • Hulitherium
  • Icarops
  • Kollikodon
  • Kolopsis
  • Litokoala
  • Macropus pearsoni
  • Macropus titan
  • Malleodectes
  • Marsupial Lion
  • Maximucinus muirheadae
  • Megalibgwilia
  • Muribacinus gadiyuli
  • Mutpuracinus archiboldi
  • Nambaroo
  • Neohelos
  • Ngamalacinus timmulvaneyi
  • Nimbacinus dicksoni
  • Nimbacinus richi
  • Nimbadon
  • Obdurodon
  • Palorchestes
  • Palorchestidae
  • Perameles allinghamensis
  • Phascolonus
  • Priscileo
  • Priscileo pitikantensis
  • Procoptodon
  • Propleopus
  • Protemnodon
  • Riversleigh Rainforest Koala
  • Sarcophilus laniarius
  • Silvabestius
  • Silvaroo
  • Simosthenurus
  • Sprite Possum
  • Steropodon
  • Sthenurus
  • Teinolophos
  • Thingodonta
  • Thylacinus macknessi
  • Thylacinus megiriani
  • Thylacinus potens
  • Thylacoleo
  • Thylacoleonidae
  • Tingamarra
  • Tjarrpecinus rothi
  • Wabulacinus ridei
  • Wakaleo
  • Wakaleo alcootaensis
  • Wakaleo oldfieldi
  • Wakaleo vanderleueri
  • Wakaleo vanderleuri
  • Warendja
  • Wynyardiide
  • Zaglossus hacketti
  • Zaglossus robustus
  • Zygomaturus


Non-Dinosaur Reptiles[]

Amphibians and Ammonites[]

  • Deltasaurus
  • Deltasaurus kimberleyensis
  • Deltasaurus pustulatus
  • Nanolania
  • Siderops
  • Trucheosaurus
  • Watsonisuchus
  • Acanthoceras
  • Clymenia
  • Hypoturrilites