Prehistoric killer's nasty weapon found

NATHAN PAULL
Last updated 08:50 28/06/2012
Banjo the dinosaur
Australian Age of Dinosaur Museum

Australovenator wintonensis.

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Scientists have discovered a frightening  weapon used by one of Australia's deadliest prehistoric predators  to attack its prey.

Banjo, or Australovenator wintonensis, became the most complete example of a carnivorous dinosaur discovered in Australia after its skeleton was found in central west Queensland in 2006.

But recently paleontologists from the Australian Age of Dinosaur  Museum, where the skeleton is currently housed, found a missing  claw.

Paleontologist Matt White says the 15cm hooked claw was the missing link that showed how the five metre long killing machine was able to attack his prey.

He said while the skeleton was still not complete, the find provided enough from both of Banjo's arms to CT scan them and recreate how he would have used them through 3D modelling.

''It's terrifying to think of how this thing would have killed  it's prey,'' White told AAP.

White said Banjo would have used two massive claws on its hands, including the latest one discovered, to grip and hold its prey still while it slammed its jaws and saw-like teeth into its kill.

''It used the top of its skull to rake through the prey and pull off chunks,'' he said.

''The animal is still probably kicking alive while its being eaten.''

Although similar in appearance, the cunning velociraptors made  famous in the Jurassic Park movies were ''bush-turkey size'' in  comparison to Banjo, White said.

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- AAP

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