New dinosaur species identified in east China

Updated: 2007-08-15 14:44

HANGZHOU -- Japanese and Chinese scientists have announced the discovery of a new dinosaur species that used to roam the southwestern region of present-day Zhejiang province in east China 100 million years ago.

After studying dinosaur fossils found in 2000 at a village near the city of Lishui during the construction of a freeway, scientists named the new species "Zhejiangosaurus Lishuiensis", according to an article carried in Acta Geologica Sinica, an English-language academic quarterly magazine published by the Geological Society of China.

Local cultural relic workers unearthed the well-preserved fossils of two rear limbs, the hip, as well as parts of the spine, seven years ago and a six-member research team has conducted analyses at the Zhejiang Provincial Museum of Natural Sciences in Hangzhou.

They concluded that the fossils showed the Zhejiangosaurus Lishuiensis to be an adult herbivorous nodosaur, measuring six meters in length and more than one meter in height, with a "mild temperament and a ungainly build".

"This particular dinosaur had bony dermal plates covering the top of its body, two lines of sharp spikes that protruded from its back and a clubless tail," said Jin Xingsheng, deputy curator of Zhejiang Provincial Museum of Natural Sciences and also a member of the research team.

Nodosaur fossils are common archaeological finds in North America, but they are quite rare inside China. Before the findings in Lishui, Chinese archaeologists had only found similar nodosaur fossils in Luoyang, central China's Henan Province.

Jin and four other Chinese scientists were guided by Dr Yoichi Azuma, curator of Japan's Fukui Profectural Dinosaur Museum and the only foreign scientist to have worked on the research team.

"With guidance from Yoichi Azuma, we have devoted a lot of time over the last few years to repairing the fossils, trying to restore the original image of the Zhejiangosaurus Lishuiensis, and a life-size model of the dinosaur will be ready for public viewing in the museum later this year," said Jin.

Fossils of dinosaur eggs belonging to larger bird-like dinosaur species know as Theropoda were also found in Tiantai, a county situated closer to the coast in Zhejiang, in March this year.

"Our findings regarding the Zhejiangosaurus Lishuiensis will shed light on the climatic conditions in this coastal province of Zhejiang dating back to the mid-Cretaceous Period.

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