Skeleton of a long-necked Dinosaur discovered in China

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Paleontologists from University of Alberta- Professor Philip Currie, PhD student Tetsuto Miyashita, and Lida Xing have discovered a new species of a long-necked dinosaur from a skeleton found in China. It was discovered in Qijiang city close to Chongqing in China and has been named Qijianglong (pronounced “CHI-jyang-lon”), meaning “dragon of Qijiang”. It is about 15 metres long and lived about 160 million years ago in the late Jurassic era. These findings were published on 26th Jan, 2015 in a new paper in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

The fossil site was found in 2006, when construction workers hit a series of large neck vertebrae stretched out in the ground while digging. The most astonishing part was that, the head of the dinosaur was still attached. “It is rare to find a head and neck of a long-necked dinosaur together because the head is so small and easily detached after the animal dies,” explains Miyashita.

This new species of dinosaurs belongs to a group of dinosaurs called mamenchisaurids, which are known for their extremely long necks sometimes measuring up to half the length of their bodies. “Qijianglong shows that long-necked dinosaurs diversified in unique ways in Asia during Jurassic times—something very special was going on in that continent,” says Miyashita. “Nowhere else we can find dinosaurs with longer necks than those in China. The new dinosaur tells us that these extreme species thrived in isolation from the rest of the world.”

The skeleton of the dinosaur Qijianglong has been placed in a museum in Qijiang, China. “China is home to the ancient myths of dragons,” says Miyashita. “I wonder if the ancient Chinese stumbled upon a skeleton of a long-necked dinosaur like Qijianglong and pictured that mythical creature.”

This write-up was based on the press release here.