A GIANT dinosaur is set to be built in Rosewood by Cr David Pahlke to showcase the giant reptiles which once roamed the region.
There are casts of dinosaur tracks, or footprints, in the Queensland Museum which were found in the Ipswich-Rosewood coalfields.
The tracks are from both meat-eating theropods and possibly plant-eating ornithopod dinosaurs from the Triassic and Jurassic Period.
In December 1996, workers at New Hope's Jeebropilly Coal Mine near Rosewood found a dinosaur footprint.
The University of Queensland identified the fossil as likely belonging to an ornithopod, which was a large two-legged plant-eater.
What is known as a 'Eubrontes' track of a carnivorous theropod was found many decades prior at the Rhondda Colliery in Ipswich and a cast of this is also on display at the Queensland Museum Lost Creatures display.
"These footprints prove that we did have dinosaurs in this area millions of years ago," Cr Pahlke said.
"There is a well-known one in the Queensland Museum of a footprint of a dinosaur that came from Rosewood area.
"I want to build a replica of a dinosaur - as close as possible to one we had here in the area - in the main street of Rosewood as a tourist attraction.
"I have been working on this for two or three years and talking to palaeontologists and people in the mining industry to authenticate everything.
"I want to link the coal mining into it as well so I can put together a funding package to go with it."
Queensland Museum palaeontologist Scott Hocknull explained the fascinating link between Ipswich and dinosaurs.
"We have a number of footprints of dinosaurs from the Ipswich coal measures which span a period of time from the Triassic to Jurassic period," he said.
"That's around 230 million to 170 million years ago.
"Traditionally what has happened in the past is that coalminers have serendipitously come across these footprints in the coalmines themselves.
"The coal forms this sort of base plate for the footprints to be formed in, so when they are excavating any roof collapses tend to show up things like that.
"Over many decades coalminers working in the Ipswich area have uncovered dinosaur tracks.
"Over many decades researchers from the Queensland Museum and the University of Queensland have been working sporadically on these tracks."
It is not possible to know exactly what the dinosaurs looked like but the ornithopod may well have been similar to the Jurassic ornithopod Camptosaurus but likely a unique species in Australia, whilst the theropod footprint might have been made by a dinosaur similar to the Jurassic Dilophosaurus.
"We are dealing with footprints that are vastly older than the bones we have, so it would be entirely artistic license to reconstruct what these animals looked like," he said.
"The problem with the trackways is that we not only don't know what the dinosaurs looked like, we are dealing with Gondwanan dinosaurs which are entirely different to those found in the northern hemisphere, both plant-eaters and meat eaters."
Plant eaters and meat eaters.
Ipswich had both of those types of two-legged and three-toed dinosaurs roaming the area in the Triassic to Jurassic eras.
"There are two main types of dinosaurs which have been found in the Ipswich area," Dr Hocknull said.
"There are the meat eating theropod dinosaurs and the plant eating ornithopod dinosaurs, which range in size from ostrich sized animals to quite large individuals five or six metres long.
"Ornithopod dinosaurs simply means 'bird-foot' and their footprints are three-toed and look a lot like birds...only big ones.
"Theropod dinosaurs had larger claws on the end of their toes and they tend to be larger than the ornithopod tracks.
"Both have three toes and large claws on the end of their toes. The ornithopods would have been usually fatter, heavier set feet like a lumbering Muttaburrasaurus."
Dr Hocknull said the Muttaburrasaurus existed further into the future than the tracks found in the Ipswich area.
"So what these dinosaurs actually looked like, we don't know, because we haven't found their bones yet," he said.
"So we can only generalise."
Dr Hocknull said that researchers work alongside mining companies to remove and extract scientifically valuable fossils with no impact on mining operations.
"It provides an air of excitement to be the first person to see these fossils in over 180 million years," he said.
It excites the miners as much as it does the scientists. They get to understand what to look out for and what the significance of these discoveries is."
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