Dinosaur wreaks havoc on hill


The discovery of dinosaur bones at the Observatory Retirement Village site could force the project to move to the controversial Forrester Heights development.
Work on the $21 million village above Oamaru came to a dramatic halt yesterday when a worker discovered what were initially thought to be moa bones.
“There was this big `clunk’ sound,” site foreman Jonathan Oke told the Oamaru Mail.
“The guys could tell they were bones, but we couldn’t be sure what sort of bones they were.”Contractors immediately called in experts from the University of Otago. Senior palaeontologist Prof Haha Gotchu, a visiting professor from the University of Tokyo, confirmed the bones came from the leg and shoulder of a Deryouthinkysaurus (Isthis arealnameus).
The dinosaur, nicknamed Barney, was a carnivore dating from the late Cretinaceous period, and probably appeared in New Zealand about 73 million years ago.
The discovery of these bones was “incredibly exciting”, Prof Gotchu said.
“This is the only the third time such bones have been discovered.
“The eyes of the palaeontologic world will now be firmly on North Otago,” he said.
“Oamaru will become a Mecca for dinosaur lovers who will be desperate to see this bone, and other bones that will no doubt emerge.”New Zealand’s leading palaeontologist, Alan Grant, said he had “not been this excited since 1993”.
“I always knew Oamaru was full of wonderful things but I never dreamed it would produce bones like this in such incredible condition,” Dr Grant said.
While the discovery of the dinosaur bones has thrilled the scientific community, it has forced a drastic rethink of the retirement village project.
A covenant was immediately placed on the Observatory Hill site and it seems unlikely the project will be able to continue as planned.
However, there was an obvious solution, Mayor Gary Kircher said.
“We’ve immediately started planning to build the retirement village at the Forrester Heights subdivision above the Oamaru Harbour.” “It’s a perfect plan B, and we can basically get moving on it straight away.”The existing work at the Observatory site would not be wasted, Mr Kircher said.
“We’ve been given an incredible opportunity to really establish and market Oamaru as the dinosaur capital of New Zealand.
“I can see a museum and theme park up on the hill with all sorts of attractions and activities. We will spare no expense.”