History Files


Mesozoic World

Asia's Heaviest Dinosaur

Edited from Mathaba News, 4 July 2007

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.



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