The Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology has just revealed new findings about the work of a Canadian team of paleontologists, who discovered a new species of long-necked dinosaur in China. The long-neck dragon dinosaur fossil was first uncovered in 2006 by Chinese Construction workers.
This uncommonly long neck (similar to those of Chinese mythical dragons) inspired the dinosaur’s name, as did the Chinese city in which the discovery was made. The Qijianglong (dragon of Quijang) is believed to have had a 25-feet-long neck, which represented well over half of the dinosaur’s body length.
Such a lightweight-necked majestic creature, scientists claim, lived during the Late Jurassic period, approximately 160 million years ago.
“I wonder if the ancient Chinese stumbled upon a skeleton of a long-necked dinosaur like Qijianglong and pictured that mythical creature,”
one of the paleontologists working on the project, Tetsuto Miyashita, said.
What is uncommon for such discoveries is that the neck and the head were found still together. Commonly, the small craniums of such dinosaurs become easily detached from the neck after the creature passes. Yet, at the time of this discovery, paleontologists were completely unaware that they had uncovered a brand new species.
Phillip Currie, the team leader and a paleontologist at the University of Alberta, explains that the dinosaur had already been uncovered, collected, and had been laid out on tables, but the team was still in the dark. Because of the large number of dinosaur fossils to be found in this Chinese region, the team had been asked to aid in the creature’s description.
They concluded that the dragon dinosaur was a mamenchisaurid. Normally, a suaropod’s neck only represents 1/3 of the creature’s body length, but in the case of a mamenchisaurid, this ratio is no longer accurate. The largest known mamenchisaurid specimen has a 59-foot-long collar.
But the research team also observed other particularities about the Qijianglong. Unlike common mamenchisaurids, the dragon dinosaur’s neck is filled with air, causing the neck to be much lighter and easier to carry. Additionally, joint particularities suggest that the creature had a more difficult time moving its head sideways. These interlocking joints would allow the creature to move as construction cranes move, enabling the dinosaur to eat from giant trees. Moreover, because of their size, carnivorous dinosaurs would rarely target them, although complete invincibility was certainly not the case.
Mamenchisaurids were indigenous to China, scientists reveal, although the exact reasons whyare not known. The creatures do have relatives across the world, Currie mentioned.
It is believed that this mysterious creatures could not spread to other continents because China was particularly isolated during the Late Jurassic period.
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