10 Big-Nosed Facts About Muttaburrasaurus

Get a whiff of Muttaburrasaurus, everybody—this dino’s awesomeness “nose” no limits!

1. It’s Among Australia’s Most Complete Dinosaurs.

Relatively speaking, there aren’t many dino fossils Down Under; the sunburnt country has produced fewer than 20 recognized species. Those that do hail from this continent are generally known from a handful of isolated or fragmented remains. Luckily, however, we have multiple Muttaburrasaurus specimens to work with, ranging from partial skeletons to shattered skulls.

2. Muttaburrasaurus May Have Had a Musical Schnoz.

That abnormal nose has given many a scientist pause over the years. Did its enlarged nasal passages produce resonant, long-range calls? Or did its bulbous snout help warm up the cool, Australian air? (Back in its day, parts of this continent sat well within the Antarctic circle.) Both ideas have merit, but, until some heads with well-preserved soft tissue start turning up, neither can be further scrutinized. 

3. The Animal Had Curious Teeth.

Despite being an ornithopod, or “duck-billed” dinosaur, Muttaburrasaurus had one feature in common with the distantly-related Triceratops and its horned kin. Like these spikier herbivores (but unlike most of its closer cousins), Muttaburrasaurus sported strong jaws and teeth which were clearly designed for heavy-duty shearing. In fact, these chompers were so powerful-looking that (some argue) Muttaburrasaurus might have even been capable of tearing through carcasses, though fibrous plants are a more likely entrée.

4. There’s a Muttaburrasaurus Statue in Queensland.

When traveling through the town of Hughenden, be sure to check out “Mutt”—a full-sized, fiberglass Muttaburrasaurus replica near Main Street. The species takes its name from a neighboring town called Muttaburra, where it was originally discovered in 1963.  

5. …And a Muttaburrasaurus Playground near Melbourne.

If you build it they will come—especially if “it” happens to be dinosaur-shaped. Meet Mimi the Muttaburrasaurus. Aussie kids can climb through her belly, slide down her tail, or hide inside her massive, sculpted eggs. Oh, and she’s got her own children’s book, too.

6. Contrary to Earlier Belief, Muttaburrasaurus Probably Lacked Thumb Spikes.

At first, Muttaburrasaurus was thought to have been related to Iguanodon, a plant-eating dino with conical spikes on its hands. Though many assumed Muttaburrasaurus had them as well, it now appears that these two creatures are distant cousins, and, hence, the latter likely lacked such spurs.

7. Some Muttaburrasaurus Bones Were Trampled by 20th-Century Livestock.

Queensland rancher Douglas Langdon deserves credit for bringing Muttaburrasaurus to scientific light, since its original remains were located on his property during the 1960s. However, by the time these precious bones were at long last collected, they’d spent several decades being exposed to the unwary hooves of his sheep & cattle, which wore many down considerably.

8. Kellogg’s Helped Sponsor its Museum Debut.

The company which brought us Corn Flakes and Froot Loops also ensured that Muttaburrasaurus would get its time in the spotlight. Getting this dinosaur’s first-known skeleton cleaned up and put on display in its native country was a meticulous, costly process which Kellogg’s chose to help finance. We can only assume Tony the Tiger would’ve called Muttaburrasaurus “Grrrrreat!” 

9. Trackways Suggest Muttaburrasaurus Might have Been a Decent Swimmer.

Australia’s Dinosaur Stampede National Monument might soon have to change its epic name. This dazzling site (located near Winton, Queensland) has yielded over 3000 footprints, and for many years, scientists held that they’d been laid haphazardly by hundreds of panicking dinos. But the truth may be far less dramatic: New research indicates that these tracks weren’t actually laid on dry land, but instead by dinosaurian swimmers casually crossing some prehistoric river. Previously, a series of large, three-toed prints were attributed to an antagonistic predator, one which allegedly triggered the “stampede.” However, paleontologist Anthony Romilio claims they actually belonged to a wading, Muttaburrasaurus-like herbivore.   

10. Muttaburrasaurus Appeared in a Nude Calendar to Help Some Good Causes.

Never let it be said that Muttaburra lacks chutzpah. To generate cash for a local school and an ambulance defibrillator, the local Community Development Association began producing “slightly risqué” calendars. Buck-naked citizens stood with every prop from vegetables to fire hoses, but the ante was seriously upped when two older residents posed with a life-sized Muttaburrasaurus replica. Mercifully, these photos don’t appear to have found their way online. Please help keep it that way. 

The Clever Adaptations That Helped Some Animals Become Gigantic

Imagine a world in which eagle-sized dragonflies buzzed through the air and millipedes as long as kayaks scuttled across Earth. "Ick"-factor aside for bug haters, these creatures aren't the product of a Michael Crichton fever dream. In fact, they actually existed around 300 million years ago, as MinuteEarth host Kate Yoshida explains.

How did the prehistoric ancestors of today’s itty-bitty insects get so huge? Oxygen, and lots of it. Bugs "breathe by sponging up air through their exoskeletons, and the available oxygen can only diffuse so far before getting used up," Yoshida explains. And when an atmospheric spike in the colorless gas occurred, this allowed the critters' bodies to expand to unprecedented dimensions and weights.

But that's just one of the clever adaptations that allowed some creatures to grow enormous. Learn more about these adaptations—including the ingenious evolutionary development that helped the biggest dinosaurs to haul their cumbersome bodies around, and the pair of features that boosted blue whales to triple their size, becoming the largest animals ever on Earth—by watching MinuteEarth's video below.

Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
Feathers, Fighting, and Feet: A Brief History of Dinosaur Art
Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

One of the first-known works of dinosaur art was The country of the Iguanodon, an 1837 watercolor by John Martin. It depicts the ancient reptiles as giant iguanas, thrashing and fighting near a stone quarry—a far cry from today's sophisticated 3D renderings.

By watching the PBS Eons video below, you can learn how our image of dinosaurs has changed over the centuries, thanks to artworks based on new scientific discoveries and fossil findings. Find out why artists decided to give the prehistoric creatures either feathers or scales, make them either active or sluggish, present them as walking on two or four feet, and to imagine tails that either dragged or lifted, among other features.

Keep in mind, however, that both emerging technologies and new findings are constantly changing the way scientists view dinosaurs. A new species, on average, is named every two weeks—and this research will likely keep artists busy (and constantly revising their work) for years to come.


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