Fossil find sheds new light on dinosaur evolution

Xinhua
Fossils of a sauropod species have been newly discovered in China, which might change how researchers think these dinosaurs evolved.
Xinhua
Reuters

Two technicians measuring a large in situ shoulder bone of Lingwulong shenqi, a newly discovered dinosaur unearthed in northwestern China, appears in this image provided July 24, 2018.

Fossils of a sauropod species have been newly discovered in China, which might change how researchers think these dinosaurs evolved, and how entire continents were linked 174 million years ago, according to a study released on Tuesday by the Natural History Museum in London.  

Researchers unearthed partial skeletons of up to 10 sauropods ranging in age from juveniles to adults at a site near the city of Lingwu in northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. The team estimated that this was likely a family herd that met their unfortunate end during the Middle Jurassic (174-163 million years ago) era.

Paleontologists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have confirmed the fossils belong to a dinosaur species named Lingwulong shenqi from the genus Diplodocus, which was believed to be entirely absent from China prior to the discovery.

Reuters

ne of the four quarries producing fossils of Lingwulong, a newly discovered dinosaur unearthed in northwestern China is seen in this image provided July 24, 2018.

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. This split isolated those animals that were already on the land mass, preventing the diplodocoids from getting there.

However, these fossils show that eastern Asia was not cut off as previously thought and that these dinosaurs may have dispersed into the region long before any isolation occurred.

“I suspect that when we go back to some old collections, we may find some dinosaurs or other animal groups that normally we wouldn’t expect to be present in China at this time,” said Professor Xu Xing of the CAS and lead author of the study published in Nature Communications. “So this particular discovery will really push us to look at other possibilities.”



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