In 2018, at the edge of a creek channel on a remote property just outside of Winton, dinosaur tracks were discovered. At double the length of two basketball courts, the tracks extend over 50m and include three distinct dinosaur types: huge sauropods, small to medium–sized ornithopods and tiny theropods. This is significant as finding the footprints of small dinosaurs associated with those of large ones is unusual, although not entirely unprecedented. These well preserved inchnofossils represent a few days, 95 million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed western Queensland.
These tracks are the first recorded evidence of substantial walking tracks for sauropods in Australia and the first Cretaceous-aged sequence of solitary ornithopod tracks in Australia. Research and interpretation of the new site will provide insight into the speeds, gaits and body sizes of the dinosaurs as well as the herd dynamics of sauropod dinosaurs.
The new site was first exposed in January/February 2000 when a small creek changed its course following large-scale flooding in the Winton district. However, the presence of dinosaur tracks was not recognised by landowners at this time. Repeated rain and flood events have since taken their toll on the fossilised tracks so that many of them now require major restoration. Excavation works carried out by the Museum in April 2018 uncovered an exceptionally well-preserved extension of the trackway but, as the majority of these new tracks are in fragile unconsolidated sandstone and are below water level in the creek bed, they will be lost forever if they are not recovered urgently.
The scientific value of these tracks make them a national treasure of international relevance and, once safely removed to the Museum, they will provide regional Queensland with a major tourism and heritage asset. Relocating the entire trackway to the Museum is a massive undertaking and is going to take many months of staff and volunteer labour to complete but their conservation is an absolute priority. These tracks will be on show to the public by late 2020.