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Press Release: Polar Dinosaurs come home to Cape Otway

Issued: 11 November 2013

CAPE Otway Lightstation has brought Leaellynasaura, a tiny warm-blooded polar dinosaur, home.

Leaellynasaura, the pin up girl of the dinosaur world who rewrote the world’s pre-history books, is back on her stomping ground.

The remarkable little dinosaur, discovered during digs in the Eighties, is on display at Cape Otway Lightstation until April in an exciting exhibition created by palaeontologists who have made a string of internationally important discoveries on the coast immediately east and west of the iconic lighthouse.

Monash University’s Emeritus Professor of Geosciences Pat Vickers-Rich, who was part of the team who discovered Leaellynasaura, said the exhibition represented some of the rich finds in the region and was of great interest to those fascinated by life on Earth dating back more than 100 million years.

Professor Vickers-Rich said Leaellynasaura, named for her daughter Leaellyn, changed the world’s understanding of dinosaurs – she was warm blooded, hibernated and had huge eyes so she could see in the long, polar winters.

Professor Vickers-Rich, who heads up the UNESCO International Sciences Program, said palaeontologists continued to work the Otways coast and were looking forward to making more finds this summer at Point Franklin, a beach within sight of the Lightstation.

“Every time we have a dig we find something – we’ve literally got a treasure trove here,” Professor Vickers-Rich said.

“All the way along this Otways coast is scientifically very important, because it has the most biodiverse polar fauna on the planet.

“The exhibition here at the Lighthouse is a taster for what a lot of us are trying to grow into a proper and permanent display down here. It’s about time we promoted what we have.”

Lightstation manager Paul Thompson said showcasing the pre-history of the Cape for locals and tourists during summer was an exciting new addition to the heritage precinct.

“We’re all about history at the Lightstation – indigenous culture and stories, our rich maritime history, our active role in guarding the coast in World War Two, and now we’re travelling way, way back in time to meet our local stars of prehistory,” Mr Thompson said.

“Apart from the museum standard exhibits, including fascinating fossils and dinosaur eggs, we will have guides and activities for young people – including a dinosaur dig.

“We’re committed to bringing history alive with our performers Characters of the Cape, our Aboriginal Cultural Centre guides, and this exhibition helps us to understand the prehistoric creatures that roamed the Cape and the important discoveries that palaeontologists continue to make on the Lightstation’s doorstep.”

Entry to the exhibition is free with a ticket to the Lightstation until April.

Otways Dinosaur’s Deb Moore said her company had joined forces with the Lightstation with a view to finding a permanent home for a large scale permanent exhibition on the wildlife of Gondwana, which spans 3.8 billion years, and has toured internationally.

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