The discovery of new fossils reveals the existence of a “Chinese dragon” 240 million years ago

An international team of scientists has described new Chinese fossils of Dinocephalosaurus orientalis five meter long aquatic reptile from the Triassic, who lived 240 million years ago. The fossils were discovered in Guizhou Province in southern China.

With 32 separate cervical vertebrae, Dinocephalosaurus orientalis had an exceptionally long neck comparable to that of Dinocephalosaurus orientalis Tanystropheus hydroides, another strange marine reptile from the Middle Triassic of Europe and China. Both reptiles were of similar size and They shared several cranial featuresincluding a fish trap bit.

However, the Dinocephalosaurus is the only one to have many more neck and trunk vertebrae, giving the animal a much more snake-like appearance. It is obvious that the reptile was very well adapted to the oceanic way of life, as evidenced by the fins of the limbs and the excellently preserved fish in the stomach area.

Despite superficial similarities Dinocephalosaurus was not closely related to the famous plesiosaurs Long-necked, which evolved about 40 million years later and inspired the myth Loch Ness Monster.

Dr. Nick Fraser, Curator of Natural Sciences at National Museums Scotland, said in a statement: “This discovery allows us to see this remarkable long-necked animal in its entirety for the first time. That’s it.” another example of the weird and wonderful world of the Triassic which still puzzles paleontologists. “We are sure it will capture everyone’s imagination due to its striking appearance, reminiscent of the mythical long, snake-like Chinese dragon.”

The reptile was originally identified in 2003but the discovery of additional, more complete specimens, including a fully articulated specimen, has allowed scientists to fully depict this strange, long-necked creature for the first time.

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Researchers from Scotland, Germany, the United States and China studied the fossil for 10 years at the Beijing Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The article describing the animal will be published in full in the journal “Earth and Environmental Sciences: Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh”which makes up the entire last volume.

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