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Xinhua:Dinosaur fossils found in China may lead to rethink of ancient continents
Update time: 07/25/2018
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LONDON, July 24 (Xinhua) -- Fossils of a sauropod species have been newly discovered in China, which might change how researchers think these dinosaurs evolved, and how entire continents were linked 174 million years ago, according to a study released Tuesday by the Natural History Museum in London.

Researchers have unearthed the partial skeletons of seven to ten sauropods ranging in age from juveniles to adults at a site near the city of Lingwu in northern China. The team estimated that this was likely a family herd that met their unfortunate end during the Middle Jurassic (174-163 million years ago).

These dinosaurs belong to a group of sauropods known as diplodocoids, which was, until now, believed to be entirely absent from China, according to the study.

Previous study estimated that by the time these dinosaurs evolved, eastern Asia had already split from the rest of Pangaea, the supercontinent that existed about 280 million years ago. This split isolated those animals that were already on the land mass, preventing the diplodocoids from getting there.

However, these fossils show that eastern Asia was not cut off as previously thought and that these dinosaurs may have dispersed into the region long before any isolation occurred.

"I suspect that when we go back to some old collections, we may find some dinosaurs or other animal groups that normally we wouldn't expect to be present in China at this time," said Professor Xu Xing, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and lead author of the study published in Nature Communications.

"So this particular discovery will really push us to look at other possibilities."

(Editor: Yurou)

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