Rare dinosaur fossil found in China

New York, Jan 30: China is not only the leader in making cheap electronics but also the leading place on earth to find rare dinosaur fossils!

A team led by University of Pennsylvania palaeontologists has unearthed fossils of a most derived, or evolutionarily advanced, of the Titanosaurs yet discovered from Asia.

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.

This latest discovery was made in the southeastern Lanzhou-Minhe Basin of China’s Gansu province – about an hour’s drive from the province’s capital, Lanzhou.

Two other Titanosaurs from the same period – Huanghetitan liujiaxiaensis and Daxiatitan binglingi – were discovered within the last decade in a valley 1 km from the Yongjinglong fossils.

“As recently as 1997, only a handful of dinosaurs were known from Gansu. Now it’s one of the leading areas of China. This dinosaur is one more of the treasures of Gansu,” said professor Peter Dodson from University of Pennsylvania.

The find helps clarify relationships among several sauropod species that have been found in the last few decades in China and elsewhere.

Until very recently, the US was the epicentre for dinosaur diversity but China surpassed the US in 2007 in terms of species found.

“Based on US fossils, it was once thought that sauropods dominated herbivorous dinosaur fauna during the Jurassic but became almost extinct during the Cretaceous,” Dodson said.

“We now realise that, in other parts of the world, particularly in South America and Asia, sauropod dinosaurs continued to flourish in the Cretaceous, so the thought that they were minor components is no longer a tenable view,” he added in a study reported in the journal PLOS ONE.

IANS