Not every company has a dinosaur species officially named after it!
Dinosaur Cove – an area rich in fossil finds – is on the southeast coast of Australia, close to Victoria. Dr. Thomas H. Rich from the Museum of Victoria and Patricia Vickers-Rich from Monash University led research projects here over a period of ten years. During his first visit to the area in 1980, Rich and two colleagues discovered fragments of rock-embedded bone.
Four years later, a group made up of hundreds of student volunteers, paleontology scientists and miners began excavations. Atlas Copco was among those involved in the excavations and contributed equipment and expert assistance over the years. Excavation was no easy task. The fossils were embedded in layers of sand, mud and clay, which over a period of more than one-hundred million years had been pressed together into hard rock. To free one kilo of dinosaur bone, approximately 30 kilos of hard rock had to be removed. The scientists often worked in dark and narrow tunnels, which at times were muddy and slippery. Work was also complicated by the excavation site being close to a steep cliff that dropped down to the sea. In conducting excavations, the research group had among other things, compressors, rock drills of various sizes and pneumatic tools.
During the excavations, a number of bone fragments were discovered from several new and entirely unknown species. The scientists could deduct that one of them was a plant-eating species that belonged to the Hypsilophodontidae family and lived during the early Cretaceous Period, 100–120 million years ago. Its length was an estimated 2–4 meters and it weighed about 125 kilos. In appreciation of assistance received, this new species was named after Atlas Copco – Atlascopcosaurus loadsi. Loadsi refers to Bill Loads, Atlas Copco's manager in Victoria who made the decision to support the project.
The excavations at Dinosaur Cove resulted in yet another important discovery. In 2009, Thomas H. Rich permitted a few more experienced paleontologists to study a portion of the excavated fossils and they were able to identify which dinosaurs they belonged to. It was discovered that the typical shape from one of the bones belonged to a type of tyrannosaurus, a creature that was about three meters long and weighed 80 kilos.
This discovery filled a gap in the tyrannosaurus' evolutionary history, and disproved previous theories about this type of dinosaur having only existed in the Northern Hemisphere. The new discovery showed that the tyrannosaurus had been a global species, but that it only developed into an enormous flesh-eater north of the equator.