Dragon fairytales might have some truth behind as a new dragon-like dinosaur species discovered in China sparks researchers’ curiosity. A skeleton uncovered in China in 2006 has been discovered to belong to an unknown species that resembles a type of 50-foot “dragon” dinosaur.Paleontologists have called the species Qijianglong guokr which in English translates as the “dragon of Qijiang”.
The skeleton was unearthed in a fish lake in Qijiang city, Chongqing territory, while agricultural workers were digging into the earth. According to subsequent research the species wandered in China 160 million years back during the Late Jurassic period. Lida Xing, from the University of Alberta exploration group that made the finding informed CNN the species name was due to the fact that the farmers who found the skeleton thought it looked like the legendary Chinese mythical beasts.
As indicated by Xing, the research team discovered the dinosaur’s tremendous vertebrae with the skull and the tail, yet couldn’t discover any bones from the hands or the legs. Because of that, local people started to think that the long body looked much the same as a mythical dragon old Chinese fairytales.
The new species is part of the group mamenchisaurids, known for greatly long necks which can be up to half of their body stretch. Sauropods, the huge, long-necked dinosaurs, typically had necks around one-third their body stretch. The most famous sauropod is probably the Aptosaur of Jurassic Park. Other extraordinary Saurpoda genera are Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus, and gigantic tyrannosaurs, like the late discovered Dreadnoughtus which may have weighed about 60 tons.
According to Tetsuto Miyashita, a PhD student at the University of Alberta the skeleton is sheer evidence that evolution can do phenomenal things. He is likewise questioning whether the mythical dragon stories were not in fact the result of ancient Chinese people finding such bone remains. Actually, there is a historical record dating from 300 BC that mentions the discovery of “winged serpent bones” in Sichuan, the province where Quijang is located.
Miyashita noted that China is probably the only place in the world where such long-necked creatures were found which suggests that the dinosaur species there evolved in a different way as compared to the rest of the world.
The team’s theory is that these very long-necked species evolved in segregation when this area may have been separated from the rest of landmass by a vast sea. When the landmasses were joined once more, Qijianglong may have been the loser of the evolutionary battle when different species came along.
The skeleton is presently hosted in a historical center in Qijiang, and will be moved to new dinosaur museum in Qijiang which is currently under construction.
The study was distributed in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, under the name ” A news sauropod dinosaur from the Late Jurassic of China the diversity, distribution, and relationships of mamenchisaurids “.
Image Source: Smithsonian.com