The yet-to-be-officially-named beast

In 2015, a major discovery took place, this time not of a human relative, but a new species of dinosaur. Dr Phil Bell, from UNE’s Palaeoscience Research Centre, led the inquiry with the help of the Australian Opal Centre.

The yet-to-be-officially-named beast belongs to a group of large carnivorous theropods called megaraptorids. The nicknamed  ‘Lightning Claw’ – after its place of discovery, Lightning Ridge, and its giant talons – grew close to 7m in length, making it the largest discovered
in Australia.

At about 110 million years old, 'Lightning Claw' appears to be the oldest megaraptorid known, about 12 million years older than the next found in Australia.

“It was obviously a predator but the key thing about this guy is the giant claws on its hands, which compensate for its dainty skull and slender jaw,” Dr Bell says. “This dinosaur probably ran down its prey and used its arms like grappling hooks.”

The find in 2015 is both the first major dinosaur discovery since three species were identified in Queensland in 1999 and the first substantial dinosaur remains ever from NSW.