Fossil of Extremely Long-Necked Dinosaur Discovered in China

Posted on January 28, 2015

The fossil of a previously unknown long-necked dinosaur species has been discovered in China. The dinosaur was about 15 meters (50 feet) in length and lived 160 million years ago during the Late Jurassic.

The dinosaur discovered near Qijiang City in China has been named Qijianglong, which means "dragon of Qijiang." Construction workers first uncovered the fossil site in 2006. The head of the dinosaur was still attached to a series of large neck vertebrae that was stretched out on the ground.

University of Alberta paleontologists Tetsuto Miyashita says in a statement, "It is rare to find a head and neck of a long-necked dinosaur together because the head is so small and easily detached after the animal dies."

The dinosaur belongs to the mamenchisaurids dinosaur group which is known for their extremely long necks. The dinosaurs have necks that measure up to half the length of their bodies. The paleontologists say Qijianglong has a unique feature. Its neck vertebrae were filled with air which would have made their necks relatively lightweight despite their enormous length and size. There were also interlocking joints between the neck vertebrae.

Miyashita also says, "Qijianglong shows that long-necked dinosaurs diversified in unique ways in Asia during Jurassic times--something very special was going on in that continent. Nowhere else we can find dinosaurs with longer necks than those in China. The new dinosaur tells us that these extreme species thrived in isolation from the rest of the world."

A research paper on the new sauropod discovery can be found here in the journal, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. The image below shows the Qijianglong skeleton housed in the Qijiang Museum in China.

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