SAN REMO DINOSAURS
In 2012 there was a major Dinosaur find in San Remo!
Geology and Paleontology
San Remo Back Beach represents the westernmost outcrop of the Strzelecki Formation, an extensive rock type that occurs along the coast eastwards to Inverloch and inland towards Korumburra and Traralgon. The sediments which now make up this rock were laid down around 115 – 120 million years ago, just as Australia was in the early stages of separating from Antarctica as part of the breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana.
Granite boulders embedded in the hard rock here at San Remo show that erosion of nearby Cape Woolamai was a significant factor in the supply of sediment into this area at the time.
And pieces of black coal embedded in the rock are evidence of the extensive forests that once covered this San Remo area back in the early Cretaceous. Small scale coal mining was carried out in several places here in the early days of settlement.
Younger volcanic rocks outcrop from Bonwicks Beach north towards the Caravan Park, where layers of variously weathered basalt lava can be seen in the cliffs, showing that local volcanoes have been active on several occasions. These volcanic rocks are presumably contiguous with the same material over the channel on nearby Phillip Island, where extensive eruptions covered the area under hundreds of metres of lava and ash nearly 50 million years ago.
San Remo has emerged as one of several significant localities for discovery of Dinosaur and other vertebrate fossils on the Victorian coastline.
Since the discovery of the first bones here in the late 1970s, around 50 pieces of bone have been collected and studied by staff at Museum Victoria. Those that can be identified come from animals including small herbivorous Ornithopod Dinosaurs, small carnivorous Abelosaurid Dinosaurs, turtles, fish and strange Temnospondyl Amphibians that looked like a giant Axolotl.
The San Remo area is home to the only known specimens of Koolasuchus cleelandi, a large Temnospondyl Amphibian that must have lived alongside the Dinosaurs as their fossils are found in the same rock layers. Koolasuchus was a dangerous predator, probably surviving on a diet of fish in a manner similar to today’s crocodiles, but probably also capable of taking down any of the smaller Ornithopod Dinosaurs that strayed too close to the waters edge, such as Qantassaurus or Leaellynasaura.
Koolasuchus is named after Lesley Kool, who as a technician at Monash University did much of the preparation work of extracting the jawbones from the hard rock. It also refers to Mike Cleeland from Phillip Island, who found the original lower jawbones in 1989.
The naming of Koolasuchus also refers to a cool climate that pervaded this area at that time. Although the world generally was considerably warmer then than now, as shown by the growth of forests and the formation of coal close to the edge of Antarctica, Oxygen Isotope studies support other geological evidence that San Remo then was much cooler than it is now.
The movement of the Australian plate northwards away from Antarctica over many millions of years has been a major factor in providing us with the warm summer holiday weather that so many locals and visitors alike can enjoy; Koolasuchus and the Dinosaurs would never have known what it was like to surf at Foots in a summer heat wave!
Please feel free to enjoy searching the beach for treasure among the rocks. If you find something you think may be a Dinosaur bone or other important fossil, please remember that it is an offence to remove it without permission. The best thing to do is to take a photo of it, accurately record the location, and contact the Museum, which will enable specialist staff to meet you onsite and evaluate your find.
Dinosaur Dreaming project at Inverloch
**San Remo Foreshore Committee expresses special thanks to
Mike Cleeland for providing the information on this page**