South Australia’s only known dinosaur on display at the South Australian Museum

03 December 2018

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The South Australian Museum puts a long lost friend on display today, welcoming a new remain from South Australia’s only known dinosaur, Kakuru kujani (Kah-koo-roo koo-yan-eee).

The opalised toe bone was dug up in Andamooka in the early 1970s and was spotted by Neville Pledge, the South Australian Museum’s then curator of fossils, in 1973 in an opal shop in Hindley Street, Adelaide.

Mr Pledge, now Honorary Researcher at the South Australian Museum said he was lucky to be able to take some photos, measurements and make a few plaster casts of the tone bone.

“Unfortunately, not long after I saw the bone it was sold and disappeared from public knowledge for 45 years,” Mr Pledge said.

In April 2018 the bone was spotted for sale on the internet by Coober Pedy resident Joy Kloester, who purchased the bone and then offered it to the South Australian Museum.

South Australian Museum’s Senior Collections Manager for Earth Sciences, Ben McHenry acted quickly to acquire the specimen.

“I couldn’t believe our luck in finding the same bone after 45 years,” he said.

Dinosaur bones in South Australia are extremely rare, with only two others known to date which are also in the Museum’s collection. During the Early Cretaceous period (around 110 million years ago) when dinosaurs roamed the land, most of South Australia was under water, being part of the ancient Eromanga Sea.

The sediments deposited on the floor of this ancient sea now form the rocks of the Great Artesian Basin and preserve the abundant remains of marine life you can see in the Museum’s Opal Fossil gallery on level 3.

This special bone will be on display in the Museum’s Opal Fossil gallery on level three from Monday 3 December.