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Long-necked dinosaur fossils discovered in China show neck sizes up to 15 meters.
A few million years ago, dinosaurs ruled the Earth before going extinct in the wake of asteroids crashing into the Earth. The discovered fossils give humans a glimpse of a long lost world. Many studies have documented the peculiar characteristics and distinct species of dinosaurs that once existed.
In addition, scientists also discovered many secrets from the dinosaur with the longest neck. This giant creature ruled parts of East Asia between the Middle Jurassic and Early Cretaceous (174-114 million years ago).
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Experts unearthed fossil bones of a long-necked dinosaur in 1987 from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China. The rest were found in rocks 162 million years old. However, it wasn’t until recently that paleontologists from Stony Brook University discovered much from the specimens collected at these sites.
Close examination of the bones revealed that this dinosaur had a neck length of 15.1 meters, longer than a bus. Named Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum, it weighed around 70 tons, making the dinosaur one of the leading contenders in the sauropod clan – a group of dinosaurs with long necks.
“Mamenchisaurids are important because they pushed the limits of neck length and were the first line of sauropods to do so. With a 15 meter neck, it looks like Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum could be the record holder – at least until something longer is discovered.” paleontologist Andrew J. Moore said.
To estimate neck size, the team also compared the remains with other related sauropods. The next long-necked dinosaur after M. sinocanadorum is Xinjiangtitan shanshanesis 13.4 m long.
Due to their enormous size, finding well-preserved sauropod bones is extremely difficult. Therefore, much information about this group of dinosaurs remains unsolved, especially how they evolved to have long necks and this continues to be a mystery.
A big question after the claim of its neck length is how this species is able to live with such a long neck. To find this out, the team conducted CT scans of the fossils to look for clues.
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The researchers discovered that its vertebrae were “primarily air” – the creature had bones filled with air, similar to modern birds. Although they have light bones, they are very strong due to the ribs that support the neck. This trait gives them balance, increases stability, and protects the species from neck injuries.
Moreover, this plant-eating dinosaur could live in large places with rich vegetation.
This research advances our understanding of the mysterious iguana. Co-author Ye Yong, director of the Research Center for Stratigraphy and Jurassic Paleontology at the Zigong Dinosaur Museum in Sichuan Province, China, added: “Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum highlights how much we can learn about sauropod evolution even from very incomplete specimens.”
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