Updated 09:37 AM EDT, Sun, Sep 20, 2020

Dragon Dinosaur Unearthed! 50-ft. Long-Necked Creature Discovered in China

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Paleontologists from the University of Alberta have discovered the remains of a new species of dinosaurs in China, Science Daily reported.

The discovery was made by paleontologists, including Lida Xing, Tetsuto Miyashita and professor Philip Currie. According to the research, the dinosaur lived about 160 million years ago and was about 50 feet long. It is named Qijianglong, meaning "dragon of Qijiang," in honor of the Qijiang City near where the remains were found.

The Qijianglong is said to likely belong to the mamenchisaurids, a group of dinosaurs that are known for their extremely long necks, which sometimes measured half the length of their bodies. To compare, most long-necked dinosaurs, collectively known as sauropods, usually have necks that span only one-third its length, while the Qijianglong's neck alone measures 25 feet.

The fossil was actually stumbled upon in 2006 by construction workers, when they found the head and vertebrae still together, according to CNET.

Miyashita expressed his excitement over the find, saying, "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 paleontologists also noted that the Qijianglong's vertebrae interlocked in a way that made the up and down movement of the head possible, but a side to side motion less easier. The vertebrae also has air, which is similar to the skeletons of birds. This is what made the dinosaur's neck lightweight compared to its massive size.

Currie also mentioned that the animals were herbivores and that their necks helped them reach tall trees, while their size kept them from being preyed upon by most carnivores, according to Fox News.

She explained, "I suspect that once they were mature, they were probably immune to the attacks of predators the way elephants are today. However, like elephants, they were probably never completely immune to attack."

She added that they had reason to believe that adults stayed with their young until they were mature enough to take on predators.

Miyashita also mentioned in a University of Alberta report, about how China is the home of the ancient myths of the dragons, and said, "I wonder if the ancient Chinese stumbled upon a skeleton of a long-necked dinosaur like Qijianglong and pictured that mythical creature."

He might not be too far off as there have been documents from 300 B.C. from the historian Chang Qu talking about the discovery of dragon bones in Sichuan, which Qijiang is actually a province of, according to Fox.

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