Sunday, 18 November, 2018

New ‘Amazing dragon’ species discovered

Breakthrough Discovery May Change Perception about Longneck Dinosaurs 'Amazing' fossils rewrite dinosaur history
Kristen Harrington | 28 July, 2018, 17:56

According to Reuters, a previously unknown species of ancient sauropods has been uncovered in northwestern China.

Scientists have announced the new species of dinosaur named Lingwulong shenqi.

"The discovery of Lingwulong pushes back the origination times of numerous groups of sauropod dinosaurs that we think of as most iconic, and challenges many conventional ideas about the early biogeographical history of dinosaurs", author and paleontologist at Imperial College London, Philip Mannion. That surprising discovery is what inspired the dinosaur's name, as the researchers write in their paper: "Lingwu, after the region where the specimens were found; long, the Mandarin Chinese for "dragon"; and shenqi, the Mandarin Chinese for "amazing", reflecting the unexpected discovery of a dicraeosaurid in the Middle Jurassic of China". An global team of Chinese and British paleontologists later arrived at the scene and dug out the remains of eight to 10 Lingwulong specimens.

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There are two other important facts discovered with these fossils: one would be that Lingwulong were living in herds, just like other sauropods because the researchers found fossils from many individuals in the same place. Its neck was shorter than some other sauropods, and it could have grazed on soft plants with its peg-like teeth.

Lingwulong wasn't almost as large as its most famous cousins, the largest individual identified by the Chinese researchers being about 18 meters (57 feet) long. Lingwulong lived 174 million years ago during the Jurassic Period.

This mighty lineage of giant herbivores later went on to give rise to Diplodocus and Brontosaurus, which lived during the Late Jurassic, and grew to truly enormous sizes during the Cretaceous Period, when behemoths like Argentinosaurus, Dreadnoughtus, and Patagotitan held dominion over the Earth.

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'Previously, we thought all of these advanced sauropods originated around 160 million years ago and rapidly diversified and spread across the planet in a time window perhaps as short as 5 million years, ' said Paul Upchurch, a palaeontologist at University College London who has just published a study on this discovery.

But the discovery of Lingwulong means that this group originated somewhat earlier and more slowly, he added.

Previous study believed that by the time these dinosaurs evolved, eastern Asia had already split from the rest of Pangaea, the supercontinent that existed about 280 million years ago.

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Scientists were surprised that the fossil was 15 million years older than any similar dinosaurs and were also surprised at where the dinosaur was found.

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