Scientists in central China's Henan Province
announced in early July 2007 that they had unearthed fossils of
the heaviest dinosaur to have been found in Asia.
The fossils were discovered in an area between
Santun township and Liudian township in Ruyang county, and the
dinosaur, which had an unusually large coelom, the body cavity
which contains the digestive tract, was identified as Asia's
heaviest, according to Wu Guochang, general engineer of the
provincial land resources department.
The dinosaur measured eighteen metres in length
and its sacrum, part of the vertebrae in the lower back, was as
broad as 1.31 metres, making it broader than the dinosaur fossil
which was unearthed in Gansu in 2006, the previous holder of the
title, Asia's heaviest dinosaur.
Wu added that scientists had thought the land
from which the fossils were excavated was formed in the Cenozoic
era, which dates back no further back than 65 million years ago -
immediately after the extinction of the dinosaurs. Until recently,
local residents kept on digging up what they called 'dragon's bones'
to use as traditional Chinese medicine, even though it was thought
that this region contained no fossils that old.
Scientists then studied these 'dragon's bones'
and identified them as the fossils of dinosaurs which lived between
85 to 100 million years ago in the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic
era. The particular dinosaur in question in 2007 was a vegetarian
sauropod and the fossils were well preserved.
Scientists from the Henan provincial geological
museum and the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences spent two
years unearthing and researching the fossils, and their findings
were assessed by thirty scientists from China and the United States,
Britain, Germany, and Japan.
The discovery was important for research into
the geological distribution, migration, and evolvement of this
particular species of dinosaur, according to Dong Zhiming, a
scientist from the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and
Palaeoanthropology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.