Mayor unveils proposal to bring dinosaur model to Roma
IMAGINE driving into Roma and seeing a dinosaur longer than a coach and as tall as the Pumps and Solar windmill on your right.
That dream could become a reality, with the Maranoa Regional Council looking at the possibility of bringing life-size, 3D-printed models of two locally discovered dinosaurs to Roma as part of a tourism push.
The long-necked sauropod Rhoetosaurus and the armoured herbivore Minmi, which were both discovered in the Maranoa, have taken the interest of Maranoa Regional Council mayor Robert Loughnan, who said he had been discussing with the Queensland Museum about bringing them to Roma.
"The thought process is to have a look at it, get a cost on it and see what can be done," Cr Loughnan said.
"I was mainly thinking of what they've done in the south-west like in Eromanga.
"It might attract more people to here and get people to spend a few days."
The Rhoetosaurus grew to 15m in length.
Cr Loughnan said aside from being a great tourist attraction, it would help locals understand our rich prehistoric heritage and improve the region's scientific profile.
"It's good for our own people, too, to understand we do have this bit of heritage," he said.
"If we don't start recording this information, we're going to lose it."
QUEENSLAND MUSEUM'S DINO EXPERT SEES BIG BENEFITS
WANTING to bring the models of two local dinosaurs to the Maranoa has nothing to with money for paleontologist Professor Scott Hucknull.
The curator of Geo-Sciences at the Queensland Museum and 2002 Young Australian of the Year said an exhibit such as the one proposed by mayor Robert Loughnan could kick-start interest in scientific endeavour for locals.
Despite being discovered in the 1920s and the 1980s respectively, no other specimens of either Rhoetosaurus or Minmi have been found anywhere since the initial digs.
Prof Hucknull said graziers and locals could be standing under rare fossils right now and not even realise it.
"A 15m long sauropod would be a big attraction and we certainly have the technology there to make it work," he said.
"It's been a real shame there's only been one found, so I hope... it spurs on a local interest to keep their eyes out for more of these."
A project of this magnitude would require locals to get behind the idea, with Prof Hucknull saying towns that support their dinosaur history have a lot of "citizen scientists" who help with discoveries.
"It's with some caution that you invest in looking for new dinosaurs but it's a good thing for the community to do," he said.
"When you look at what happens in Winton and Eromanga, you have really passionate locals running the whole show in a non-profit way.
"There's got to be a commitment to keep the science behind it.
"Putting a dinosaur out the front is cool and it will draw people, but you need to get people interested from a scientific perspective."
Not only is Rhoetosaurus one of the first dinosaurs discovered in Australia, it's also the oldest recorded dinosaur from this country, with its fossils estimated at 170 million years old.