I am a palaeontologist living and working in Alice Springs, in the red centre of Australia. I moved here with my wife and three kids from Johannesburg, South Africa. I used to focus my research on dinosaurs, and it is fair to say I am still a dino nut but these days I work on fossils from the NT, be they turtles, tassie tigers or anything else. In my spare time I like to watch birds, catch beetles, lizards and snakes and generally find out as much about the species around me as I can.
With so much going on I've had little time for blogging. Recently there was some discussion of the supposed Australian Cretaceous dicynodont (maxillary fragment of the specimen is pictured on the left) over at Chinleana. I'll add my two cents here rather than commenting there just to keep something ticking over on my blog. Randy Irmis made a startling comment that the consensus was that it was indeed a dicynodont. This is news to me, I had always thought that the identity of the specimen was always the weak part of the claim. I have to add that I've never seen the specimen myself. Randy goes on to add that because it was surface float it is the provenance of the specimen that is suspect. Here I have to add my voice in support of Thulborn's original assesment, whatever it was there can be little doubt that it came from the Cretaceous. As has been noted Australia is flat and rather geologically quiescent. The nearest Triassic rocks are many hundreds of kilometres away. Nor do these Triassic rocks have much in the way of dicynodonts in them anyway - just one beat-up quadrate from more than 20 years of intensive collecting in the Arcadia formation (the main fossil-bearing Triassic formation of south-eastern Queensland). When you are out prospecting in most parts of the world you almost never find fossils more than a few tens of metres from the formation that bore them (unless there is a transport mechanism such as a river). Australia certainly never had post-Triassic glaciations that can randomly transport objects over large distances. So if the morphology is definately saying dicynodont then hey, I'm prepare to accept this extraordinary claim. Indeed recently another clade thought to have died out before the end of the Triassic has been found to have survived until the Cretaceous (I can say no more) so survival of the Dicynodonts may not be so weird after all.