Scientists announce discovery of new dinosaur genus in China

10:26, August 29, 2010      

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File picture shows the restored appearance of the ceratopsid dinosaur whose fossil was found in Zhucheng, east China's Shandong Province. (Xinhua/Fan Changguo)

Chinese scientists have identified a new genus of dinosaur in a mountainous city of the eastern Shandong Province, a type of ceratops never found before, experts from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) said Saturday.

Fossils of the dinosaur were unearthed in January 2008 in Zhucheng City, where several Cretaceous dinosaurs have been found since the 1960s, "but was identified only quite recently," said Xu Xing, a renowned dinosaur researcher in China.

Xu, a researcher with CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, has named it "Sinoceratops Zhuchengensis."

"Its skull is at least 180 cm long and 105 cm wide," said Xu. "It has a 30-cm long horn on its face and at least 10 crooked, smaller horns on the top of its head."

Ceratops (meaning horn face) were large, plant-eating dinosaurs of the late Cretaceous period that dates to back more than 65 million years ago. The most renowned ceratops is triceratops, a huge herbivore weighing over 10 tonnes.

The discovery of the Zhuchengensis might rewrite current theories on the morphological transition among dinosaurs, Xu said.

"It blurs the distinctions between two types of ceratops," he said. " It bears features of centrosaurus, a group of ceratops, that are smaller in size, but its size resembles chasmosaurus, the giants of ceratops."

Before China's finding, ceratops had been unearthed only in western North America.

Xu and his colleagues said the discovery provided proof that supported the hypothesis of the horned dinosaurs' migration from Asia to North America.

Chinese scientists have found at least 10 dinosaur species in Zhucheng City in three rounds of excavation since the 1960s including Tyrannosaurus and Hadrosaurs.

Source: Xinhua
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(Editor:李牧(实习))

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