“Mike appreciates it so much that he doesn’t want it on his mantelpiece like so many collectors do.
“He sees that the true value of it, which is to all Australians; it’s to the entire world, really.
“So people can now go and see that jaw [at the museum] and it’s there for everyone to appreciate and hopefully get a little bit of the thrill that Mike and I got in laying our eyes upon this thing for the first time.”
And Mike is one of the few people in the world who knows what it feels like to have a dinosaur named after you.
The modern Gulf of Carpentaria is the last remnant of a shallow inland sea that covered most of eastern Australia about 100 million years ago.
Back then, the Australian continent sat 60 degrees south of where it is today, and Lightning Ridge was almost coastal real estate.
The dry and dusty region of today was once in the catchment of rivers and lagoons that drained into this sea, and the area would have been covered with densely vegetated, lush forests.
A geological quirk resulted in some of the richest veins of the most valuable black opals being found around Coober Pedy, in South Australia, and Lightning Ridge.
“If these fossils were in surface rock, like those found in China and Mongolia, it would be an absolute treasure-trove,” palaeontologist Dr Bell said.
“But all of these [fossilised] rocks are underground.
“On a normal dinosaur expedition we’d be walking on the surface looking for bits of bone, but we don’t have that luxury in Lightning Ridge.”
Hence researchers are now looking into some mines that are not economically viable, but are known to produce fossils.
“As palaeontologists we’re always dealing with missing information,” Dr Bell said.
“We’re indebted to the miners for everything.”
Mike Poben is still in wonderment.
“Every time I see it (the scientific name) written I’m gobsmacked that my surname is attached to the creature,” he said.
“I don’t want to get philosophical, but it’s added meaning to my life in ways that I never thought it would.”