Archive for ‘Dinosaurs’

06/06/2014

Stunning fossil eggs provide insight on ancient flying reptiles | Reuters

A spectacular fossil find in China – a prehistoric egg extravaganza from 120 million years ago – is providing unique insight into the lifestyle and gender differences of pterosaurs, the flying reptiles that lived alongside the dinosaurs.

An artist rendition depicts ecological reconstructions of Hamipterus, the flying reptiles that lived alongside the dinosaurs. REUTERS/Chuang Zhao/Handout via Reuters

Until now, only four pterosaur eggs had ever been found, and all were flattened during the process of fossilization.

But Chinese scientists said on Thursday they had unearthed five pterosaur eggs preserved beautifully in three dimensions at a site in northwestern China that also includes no fewer than 40 adult individuals of a newly identified species that lived in a bustling colony near a large freshwater lake.

“This is definitely the most important pterosaur site ever found,” said paleontologist Zhonghe Zhou, director of the Chinese Academy of SciencesInstitute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology.

The creature, Hamipterus tianshanensis, had a crest atop its elongated skull, pointy teeth for catching fish and a wingspan of more than 11 feet (3.5 meters).

via Stunning fossil eggs provide insight on ancient flying reptiles | Reuters.

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03/11/2013

Jurassic parks rise in east as China catches dinosaur fever | The Times

National pride, an epic drive for museum construction and an unprecedented number of holes in the ground mean that the global future of dinosaur hunting will be Chinese.

Chinese archeologist uncovering dinosaur fossils at a site in Zhucheng, known as “dinosaur city,” in northeast China’s Shandong province. Archaeologists in China have uncovered more than 3,000 dinosaur footprints, believed to be more than 100 million years old, state media reported on February 7, 2010, in an area said to be the world’s largest grouping of fossilised bones belonging to the ancient animals, after a three-month excavation at a gully in Zhucheng

The Chinese enthusiasm for palaeontology and regional one-upmanship, played out with 150 million year-old skeletons, could have a dramatic effect on the dinosaur names learnt and loved by children around the world.

China’s rich subterranean reserves of dinosaur fossils have already produced the Tsintaosaurus and Shantungosaurus, named decades ago after the places in which they were found. More recent additions include the Zhuchengtyrannus (from Zhucheng) and the Huanghetitan liujiaxiagensis, the latter named after a reservoir.

In many cases, discoveries of new species in China have prompted a fundamental rethink about dinosaur biology, their evolution and the way they were dispersed around the world. Discoveries in eastern China of thousands of fossilised eggs and embryos brought new theories about how dinosaurs grew; the world’s largest “graveyard” of dinosaurs in Shandong province offered the intriguing insight that dinosaurs of different species shared nests.

With Chinese funding increasingly available to domestic and international teams, the next two decades could see the familiar pantheon of Tyrannosaurus rex, Diplodocus and Triceratops joined by herds of newly discovered species named in honour of obscure corners of China where local governments are eagerly financing dinosaur digs. Only last month, a study in Shanxi province near the Yungang grottoes announced the discovery of a new hadrosaurid dinosaur from the late Cretaceous period: Yunganglong datongensis. It was greeted with huge excitement, because it could throw light on how a whole class of dinosaurs, the Hadrosauridae, evolved. New Chinese names have an element of whimsy: in April this year, international researchers agreed that a fossil found in the remote western Xinjiang region in 2006 was a 161 million year-old meat-eating theropod. It was named Auron Zhaoi after the dragon king in China’s most famous folk tale.

Although it has been clear for nearly a century that China is fabulously blessed with fossils, domestic interest has historically been limited, said Xu Xing, the senior professor at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing. However, the past decade has seen a surge of interest that has corresponded with China’s protracted economic boom.

“When I started, there was just one person applying to study palaeontology — me. Now this institute alone has intakes of 20 students a year and there are new institutes opening around the country,” Professor Xu said. Local governments from Inner Mongolia to Hunan were competing to build museums around dinosaurs found on their patches and financing digs that might make a name for them, he added. Huang Dong, curator of the new £10 million Heyuan Dinosaur Museum in Guangdong province, said that it receives around 120,000 visitors a year. A further £40 million of investment in a dinosaur park is planned.

via Jurassic parks rise in east as China catches dinosaur fever | The Times.

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