, Volume 99, Issue 5, pp 397–405 | Cite as

First ceratosaurian dinosaur from Australia

  • Erich M. G. FitzgeraldEmail author
  • Matthew T. Carrano
  • Timothy Holland
  • Barbara E. Wagstaff
  • David Pickering
  • Thomas H. Rich
  • Patricia Vickers-Rich
Original Paper


The basal theropod dinosaur clade Ceratosauria, and its subclade Abelisauroidea, is characteristic of late Mesozoic terrestrial vertebrate faunas in western Gondwana (South America, Africa, Madagascar, and India) and Europe. Yet unambiguous records of ceratosaurs have hitherto been absent from Australia, where the theropod assemblage appears to include several typically Laurasian clades. Here, we report the first evidence of ceratosaurs (and potentially abelisauroids) from eastern Gondwana––a diagnostic astragalocalcaneum from the Aptian (121–125 Ma) of Victoria, Australia. Ceratosauria thus occurred in both western and eastern Gondwana during the Early Cretaceous. This fossil adds to the poorly known dinosaur fauna of Australia, a major clade of basal theropods, emphasising that its mid-Cretaceous theropod diversity was surprisingly cosmopolitan despite relative geographic isolation, including clades that have been thought to be typical of both Gondwana and Laurasia––Ceratosauria, Spinosauridae, Carcharodontosauria, Tyrannosauroidea, and Deinonychosauria. Such a contemporaneous association of theropod clades is unknown from other Gondwanan continents and questions the views that the late Mesozoic dinosaur fauna of Australia was dominated by Gondwanan or Laurasian elements, extreme isolation, relictualism, and/or novelty as a ‘centre of origin’. The cosmopolitan theropod fauna of Australia probably reflects the global distribution of these clades early in their history, prior to significant continental breakup.


Dinosauria Theropoda Ceratosauria Abelisauroidea Gondwana Cretaceous 



BEW is supported by Australian Research Council Linkage Grant LP0989203. EMGF thanks Museum Victoria, the Harold Mitchell Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution for their support. PVR and THR are supported by Australian Research Council Linkage Grant LP100100330, Museum Victoria and Monash University. L. Kool is thanked for performing the initial preparation of NMV P221202. We thank M. Cleeland for his discovery of NMV P221202.

Supplementary material

114_2012_915_MOESM1_ESM.doc (1.6 mb)
ESM 1 (DOC 1.60 mb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erich M. G. Fitzgerald
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Matthew T. Carrano
    • 2
  • Timothy Holland
    • 1
    • 3
  • Barbara E. Wagstaff
    • 4
  • David Pickering
    • 1
  • Thomas H. Rich
    • 1
    • 3
  • Patricia Vickers-Rich
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Museum VictoriaMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.National Museum of Natural HistorySmithsonian InstitutionWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.School of GeosciencesMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.School of Earth SciencesUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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