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Jurassic dinosaur fossils unearthed
( 2003-10-14 00:19) (Xinhua)

Chinese scientists have made the "first discovery in East Asia'' of fossilized bones of a 100-million-year-old dinosaur at a village in Northeast China's Jilin Province, an area rare for dinosaur fossil finds, it was announced earlier this week.

The find included fossils of a one-metre-long lower limb and three-metre-long vertebra, said Professor Sun Ge, director of the Paleontology and Stratigraphy Research Centre at Jilin University.

"The entire dinosaur might measure some 20 metres long by inference after our data analysis,'' Sun said.

The fossils were first discovered by Zhang Xianshan, a farmer at Xidi Village in Jiutai City, who alerted local authorities in late September, reporting he had discovered "rocks like bones.''

Scientists at the centre went to the scene and uncovered the "bone-like'' fossils before transporting them to the Changchun-based Jilin University.

The purple stratum where the fossils were found dates to the Cretaceous Period sediment, which means they probably date back 90 million to 100 million years, scientists say.

"The pieces are from Titanosauridae, a vegetarian giant dinosaur species,'' said Professor Dong Zhiming, who specializes in dinosaur research.

"It is the first discovery of such dinosaurs in East Asia,'' Dong said, adding the discovery will help further the study on the evolution of dinosaurs in China.

"We found some smaller dinosaur fossils, probably a dinosaur group, at the dig.''

The Titanosauridae dominated the Jurassic Period and Cretaceous Period more than 100 million years ago.

The well-known Mamenchisaurus, giant dinosaurs once discovered in China's western regions of Xinjiang and Sichuan, also belong to the Titanosauridae group.

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