A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in China, one in Argentina and one in Belgium have identified the fossilized remains of two hitherto unknown dinosaurs in China. In his article published in the journal Peerj, the group describes the fossils, provides the name of the new dinosaur and illustrates possible clues to explain its excellent conservation.
The new dinosaur was actually discovered by farmers working in Liaoning Province, northeast China. They found the remains of two of the same new species, which researchers have named Changmiania liaoningensis. Both were in an almost virgin state. The name means “eternal bedroom” in Chinese, because it looks like both dinosaurs had been buried alive with their eyes closed, looking like they were sleeping. Researchers suggest that the reason for the rapid disappearance and near-virgin condition was probably due to a volcanic eruption that caught them both while sleeping in their lair. The area where the dinosaurs were discovered was part of the plain that had been covered in rubble from an ancient massive volcanic eruption, which had also covered many other creatures. The area is a well-known archaeological site.
The two dinosaurs would have been a little over a meter long when they were alive, with long, almost inflexible tails. They were the first ornithopods, a species of dinosaur that walked erect on its large hind legs and dug itself into the ground like rabbits. They had also had shovel-shaped snouts, which would have helped them dig quickly and efficiently. The neck and forearm were short but strong, and their shoulder blades resembled those of animals in modern lands. Researchers suggest that the dens where the dinosaurs had slept probably collapsed under the weight of the volcano’s remains, which did not give the dinosaurs a chance to dig up. They also observe that the tails of the dinosaurs had been stretched due to the stiffness. They also found a small cluster of rocks near the stomach area of one of the specimens, a sign that the dinosaur swallowed them like modern birds to help digest food.
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Yuqing Yang et al. A new basal ornithopod dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of China, PeerJ (2020). DOI: 10.7717 / peerj.9832
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Citation: New ‘eternal sleeping’ dinosaurs unearthed in China (2020, September 15) recovered on September 16, 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-09-eternal-sleeper-dinosaurs-unearthed-china. html
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