A west Queensland town may add a dinosaur to its list of tourism attractions.
Maranoa Council mayor Robert Loughnan has been in discussions with Queensland Museum to find out if Roma, about 500 kilometres west of Brisbane, could become home to a 15-metre long, four-metre tall 3D Rhoetosaurus dinosaur replica.
It may seem a strange addition to the outback town, but the life-size herbivore replica, yet to be built, would pay tribute to the discovery of Rhoetosaurus fossils found 100 kilometres north of Roma in 1924.
It is the oldest dinosaur skeleton found in Australia.
The herbivore lived during the mid-Jurassic period about 170 million years ago.
Queensland Museum geosciences senior curator Dr Scott Hocknull said the local community had been "keen" to have a dinosaur display in Roma.
"We really are well and truly using new technology to bring these dinosaurs back to life.
"Short of having DNA, it is the closest you can get to having a real dinosaur," Dr Hocknull said.
"Regional communities have an interest in tourism but it is also a great way of taking people from the city to show them the outback that is different to what they are normally seeing."
The process of printing out a dinosaur is not easy and would require photographs of the skeleton to be fed into a computer to create a 3D model.
The model's measurements would then be sent to a 3D printer, which would layer sheets of plastic to build shapes, and a CNC machine, which would cut the larger objects out of foam.
"(The 3D printer) prints out layer upon layer of plastic, that cools rapidly. Each layer is thinner than a piece of paper and every single print can take hundreds of hours to finish," Dr Hocknull said.
"We would have to use both technologies; you would use CNC to cut out the bigger objects and 3D printer would look after the scales, the eyes, the smaller objects."
Dr Hocknull said the staggering 15-metre long dinosaur, which would take about two years to build, could help increase the amount of discoveries made in the area.
"It is a tantalising glimpse of what might still be out there and hopefully more residents in the Maranoa area will be on the lookout," Dr Hocknull said.
"To increase the discoveries we have to increase knowledge on the ground, that is either land holders or tourists.
"Creating a mould of a dinosaur helps tell the story of Roma from hundreds of millions of years ago. It keeps it in the minds of anyone on the ground walking around in that area to keep an eye out for other fossils."
Cr Loughnan said the dinosaur replica would boost the fascinating culture that exists in west Queensland.
"It acts as an introduction to dinosaurs in the region and creates awareness of our area being one of the first places for dinosaurs to be found," he said.
"I have spoken to people, in particular those aware of our history, and most people are keen to do something like that, particularly if it is going to help tourism for the broader region.
"All of south-west Queensland has been badly hit by the drought and I think it will be a magnificent supplement to our tourism product."
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