The fossil of a sauropod -- a large, long-necked herbivorous dinosaur -- has been unearthed after a month of excavations near Zigong Dinosaur Museum in Zigong City, southwest China's Sichuan Province, Sichuan Daily reported on December 15.
"It must have been a big guy when it lived in the middle Jurassic period, about 160 million years ago," paleontologist Li Fei said at the excavation site. "It is over 20 meters long and its longest rib measures 1.93 meters."
None of the sauropod's neck vertebrae have yet been found, but shinbone and thighbone fossils from another animal were discovered beneath it.
A 109-millimeter-long fossilized tooth was identified in the sauropod's ribs along with six broken teeth fossils nearby that Li said probably belonged to a carnivorous dinosaur.
"Based on this, we conclude this sauropod may have been killed by a predator," said Li.
Besides the huge fossil skeleton, some fossilized fish scales and tortoise shells were also discovered at the site.
The sauropod fossil is the largest to be found at Zigong since the cluster was first unearthed in 1979, overtaking the remains of an 18-meter-long Omeisaurus tianfuensis.
The Zigong Dinosaur Museum is the world's third largest after one in each Canada and the US, and houses the complete fossils of more than 100 dinosaurs.
In 1902, the first identified Chinese dinosaur fossil was discovered in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, and the number unearthed in China is the third largest in the world -- over 100 species.
(Xinhua News Agency December 20, 2005)