By Joe Dziemianowicz / December 5, 2018

Opal Fossils Lead to Discovery of New Dinosaur

The find has been called "a gem."

Cut opals from Coober Pedy and Andamooka in South Australia, and Lightning Ridge in New South Wales, Australia (Getty Images)
Cut opals from Coober Pedy and Andamooka in South Australia, and Lightning Ridge in New South Wales, Australia (Getty Images)

The discovery of a new dog-sized dinosaur species is being called a “gem of a find” by National Geographic, which first reported the story.

The fossils — which, remarkably are made from opal, as described in the journal PeerJ — belong to a newly named dinosaur Weewarrasaurus pobeni, a plant-eater.

The ancient remains were unearthed in a mine in Wee Warra, a bone’s throw from the Australian outback community of Lightning Ridge.  Researchers believe the species was roughly “the size of a Labrador retriever, walked on its hind legs and had both a beak and teeth for nibbling vegetation,” Nat Geo notes.

Scientists think Weewarrasaurus resembles canines in another way: It is theorized that they moved in groups or herds in the interest of protection. It joins a growing roster of Australian dinosaurs. Indeed, while there are fewer than 20, four new species have been found since 2015.

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