LIFE / CULTURE
Three-year-old dinosaur found in SW China, belonging to unknown genus and species
Published: May 06, 2021 08:32 PM
The skull of the dinosaur. Photo: Courtesy of Center for Vertebrate Evolutionary Biology of Yunnan University

The skull of the dinosaur. Photo: Courtesy of Center for Vertebrate Evolutionary Biology of Yunnan University


The skeleton of a young juvenile dinosaur has been discovered in Lufeng, Southwest China's Yunnan Province. The discovery is particularly exciting as the fossil does not match that of any known genus or species of dinosaur.

Examining the fossil, which includes part of the dinosaur's skull, complete cervical vertebra, dorsal vertebra and metacarpal bone, researchers estimate that the dinosaur was about 1.7 meters long and was roughly three years old when it died, according to a press release from the Center for Vertebrate Evolutionary Biology of Yunnan University.

Photo: Courtesy of Center for Vertebrate Evolutionary Biology of Yunnan University

Photo: Courtesy of Center for Vertebrate Evolutionary Biology of Yunnan University


Researchers also said that the dinosaur, excavated from the early Jurassic strata in Lufeng, was a herbivore that used its leaf-shaped teeth to mainly feast upon pine and cypress trees.

Comparing the fossil with other known dinosaurs, researchers discovered that the young dinosaur did not match any known genus or species.

"The shape of the dinosaur is different from known species around the world and should belong to a new species," Bi Shundong, a professor at the Center for Vertebrate Evolutionary Biology, told the Global Times on Thursday.

The dinosaur is restored. Photo: Courtesy of Center for Vertebrate Evolutionary Biology of Yunnan University

The dinosaur is restored. Photo: Courtesy of Center for Vertebrate Evolutionary Biology of Yunnan University


This is the second time a juvenile fossil belonging to sauropodomorpha - a sub-order of dinosaur distinguished by leaf-shaped tooth crowns, small heads and necks that are at least as long as the trunk of the body - has been discovered in Lufeng. Lufeng is the most abundant Mesozoic fossil-bearing stratigraphic region in Yunnan Province. To date, a total of 11 genera under sauropodomorpha have been discovered in the region, with the oldest dating back to 200 million years ago. 

The discovery has also sparked excitement among netizens in China. Many of them expressed surprise about the rich variety of species that once lived in the province.

There have been several significant dinosaur discoveries made around China in 2021. 

For instance, the world's smallest stegosaur footprint was found in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in March. The fossil track was only 5.7 centimeters long, while average footprint lengths range from 30 to 50 centimeters in length.


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