SYDNEY, June 4 (Xinhua) -- A group of fossils from Australia's Lightning Ridge stunned scientists when it was revealed on Tuesday that they comprise not only a new dinosaur species but also the country's first dinosaur herd.
A recent analysis of the fossils showed that these fossils come from four separate animals of the brand new species, Fostoria dhimbangunmal, named in honor of opal miner Robert Foster who made the find back in the 1980s, and the local indigenous people's name where they were found.
The area where the discovery was made, Lightning Ridge, is an active opal mine, famous for producing some of Australia's most significant dinosaur discoveries and many of the world's opalized fossils.
Lead researcher Dr. Phil Bell from the University of New England told Xinhua that the most intact dinosaur in the group is of particular importance.
"This is the most complete opalized dinosaur skeleton in the world. There are about 60 opalized bones from one adult dinosaur," Bell said
"Fossils that turn to opal are extraordinarily rare on a global scale and essentially Australia has them all."
Most people know of opals as gemstones used in jewelry and valued for their rich and distinct rainbow coloring, however, the opal which forms most of the fossils from Lightning Ridge are of a more dull color.
"Opal itself is basically silica, like glass," Bell explained
"The silica which formed these fossils originated as volcanic ash from a massive volcanic island chain that was along the east coast of Australia 100 million years ago."
During that time, Fostoria roamed the earth, a two-legged, plant-eating dinosaur which likely existed in herds for protection from predators.
The fossils will now be displayed at the Australian Opal Centre at Lightning Ridge to advance awareness about the importance of finding and preserving fossils like them and inspiring the next generation of dinosaur hunters.