When we think of dinosaurs we probably think of the wonderful movie franchise, “Jurassic Park.” But dinosaurs aren’t just make-believe creatures found in movies or books – they actually did exist. There were once a variety of these giants that roamed around the world. And recently, a new species of dinosaur has been discovered by scientists in China.
Estimated to be around 125 million years old, two entirely preserved fossils were unearthed in the northeastern area of China, in the Lujiatun Beds. Paleontologists from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences believe that the animals may have been burrowing when they became trapped in a volcanic eruption. This would’ve resulted in two perfectly preserved “magnificent skeletons.”
One of the paleontologists from RBINS, Pascal Godefroit, noted that “These animals were quickly covered by fine sediment while they were still alive or just after their death.”
The two skeletons have been named “Changmiania liaoningensis.” The name for the species comes from Chinese, with Changmiania meaning “eternal sleep.” So far, it is believed that the species of dinosaurs were bipedal herbivore who grew around 1.2 meters in length. These dinosaurs have even been defined as some of the oldest ornithopod dinosaur to date. Ornithopods are described as being a group of dinosaurs who were herbivorous. They thrived during the Cretaceous period, which was between 66-145.5 million years ago).
Paleontologists have even deduced that these dinosaurs were probably pretty fast – judging from their powerful hind legs coupled with their stiff tales.
As Godefroit noted, there were certain characteristics to their skeletons that suggested these animals were burrowers – not unlike the rabbits of today.
He stated, “Its neck and forearms are very short but robust, its shoulder blades are characteristic of burrowing vertebrates and the top of its snout is shaped like a shovel.”
As for how they died, he shared that he and his fellow scientists believed that these particular Changmiania were inside their burrows when they became trapped by a volcanic eruption that took place about 125 million years ago.
While this was all exciting, the team officially published their findings in the PeerJ scientific journal – something accessible to the public by clicking here. Definitely worth a read if you’re interested in dinosaurs!