New megaraptorid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) remains from the Lower Cretaceous Eumeralla Formation of Cape Otway, Victoria, Australia
Megaraptorid theropods thrived in South America and Australia during the mid-Cretaceous. Their Australian record is currently limited to the upper Barremian–lower Aptian upper Strzelecki Group and the upper Aptian–lower Albian Eumeralla Formation of Victoria, the Cenomanian Griman Creek Formation of New South Wales, and the Cenomanian–lowermost Turonian Winton Formation of Queensland. The latter has produced Australovenator wintonensis, the stratigraphically youngest and most complete Australian megaraptorid. The Eric the Red West (ETRW) site on Cape Otway, Victoria (Eumeralla Formation; lower Albian), has yielded two teeth, two manual unguals, and a right astragalus that are almost identical to the corresponding elements in Australovenator. Herein, we classify these as Megaraptoridae cf. Australovenator wintonensis. We also reappraise the ‘spinosaurid’ cervical vertebra from ETRW and suggest that it pertains to Megaraptoridae. Three other theropod elements from ETRW—a cervical rib (preserving a bite mark), a caudal vertebra, and a non-ungual manual phalanx—are also described, although it is not possible to determine their phylogenetic position more precisely than Tetanurae (non-Maniraptoriformes). All elements were found in a fluvial deposit, associated with isolated bones of other theropods, ornithopods, and turtles, amongst others; consequently, no two can be unequivocally assigned to the same theropod individual. The new specimens from ETRW demonstrate that a megaraptorid theropod morphologically similar to Australovenator lived during the late Early Cretaceous in Victoria, at a higher paleolatitude than its northern counterpart. Moreover, they attest to the success of megaraptorids in late Barremian–early Turonian faunas throughout eastern Australia.