One of the largest plant-eating dinosaurs to ever walk Earth discovered in China

Washington, Jan. 30: Paleontologists have characterized a new dinosaur based on fossil remains found in northwestern China.

The species, a plant-eating sauropod named Yongjinglong datangi, roamed during the Early Cretaceous period, more than 100 million years ago.

This sauropod belonged to a group known as Titanosauria, members of which were among the largest living creatures to ever walk the earth.

At roughly 50-60 feet long, the Yongjinglong individual discovered was a medium-sized Titanosaur. Anatomical evidence, however, points to it being a juvenile; adults may have been larger.

The find helps clarify relationships among several sauropod species that have been found in the last few decades in China and elsewhere. Its features suggest that Yongjinglong is among the most derived, or evolutionarily advanced, of the Titanosaurs yet discovered from Asia.

Doctoral student Liguo Li and professor Peter Dodson, who have affiliations in both the School of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Animal Biology and the School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Earth and Environmental Science, led the work.

They partnered with Hailu You, a former student of Dodson’s, who now works at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, and Daqing Li of the Gansu Geological Museum in Lanzhou, China.

The anatomical features of the bones bear some resemblance to another Titanosaur that had been discovered by paleontologists in China in 1929, named Euhelopus zdanskyi. But the team was able to identify a number of unique characteristics.

Li said that the shoulder blade was very long, nearly 2 meters, with sides that were nearly parallel, unlike many other Titanosaurs whose scapulae bow outward.

The findings have been published in the journal PLOS ONE. (ANI)