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Home >> Sci-Edu
UPDATED: 16:55, August 25, 2006
Diplodocus fossils found in NW China
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A sketch picture of diplodocus.

Chinese archeologists have reported major dinosaur findings in northwest China's Ningxia Hui and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions. In Lingwu excavation site of Ningxia, they spotted fossils of diplodocus species that had never been unearthed in Asia before. In Changji excavation site of Xinjiang, it is possible for them to find the fossils of a whole large-size dinosaur skull, possibly a Asian record dinosaur fossil in terms of size.

Xu Xing, a researcher of the Ancient Vertebrates and Ancient Human Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), who takes charge of the excavation, cited diplodocus as the biggest of its kind among a group of giant plant-eating dinosaurs and the longest animal inhabiting on land since the dawn of history, namely, living in the late Jurassic and early Cretaceous periods approximately 150 million years ago. Despite its mammoth body, it has a small head, with nostrils growing on top of the head.

"Diplodocus fossils have been spotted chiefly in the southern hemisphere, and this is the first time diplodocus bones are found in Asia," Xu Xing noted. "The findings are of great importance as it may help enlighten us on patterns and processes of continental drift." It is learned that the continents on Earth were originally joined in the early Jurassic period and began falling apart gradually in the mid and late Jurassic period, in accordance with the plate movement theory. The fossils of Diplodocus spotted in Ningxia had precisely existed during that period oftime. But this is the type of Diplodocus fossils that people have never spotted in the northern hemisphere before.

The excavation site in Changji, located in southeastern Junggar Basin in Xinjiang and about 370 km from the city of Urumqi, is a classic dinosaur research site, popularly known as "dinosaur valley," where scientists made a number of major discoveries. In 1928, an ace palaeontologist named Prof. Yuan Fuli unearthed a piece of lystrosaurus fossil in Qitai County of the present Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture near the "dinosaur valley". That lystrosaurus fossil has remained the only one that has been spotted in Asia so far. In 1987, a Sino-Canadian joint research team discovered Asia's largest dinosaur fossil "mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum" near Jiangjun Gobi desert in Changji. In 2002, Xu Xing and his peers from Washington University, U.S. found the earliest tyrannosaur fossil in this area.

The excavation site of the diplodocus fossil is less than 200 meters off the exploration site for large sauropod fossils that was excavated in 2001. According to experts, the earlier excavation only unearthed dinosaur spine fossils, and scientists are possibly able to spot dinosaur skull fossils in the current excavation.

By People's Daily Online

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