Scientists in central China's Henan Province announced on Tuesday that they had unearthed fossils of the heaviest dinosaur in Asia.
The fossils were discovered in an area between Santun township and Liudian township in Ruyang county, and the dinosaur, which has an unusually large coelom -- the body cavity that contains the digestive tract -- has been identified as Asia's heaviest, said Wu Guochang, general engineer of the provincial land resources department.
The dinosaur measures 18 meters long and its sacrum -- part of the vertebrae in the lower back -- is as broad as 1.31 meters, making it broader than that of the dinosaur fossil unearthed in Gansu last year, which was then identified as Asia's heaviest dinosaur, said Wu.
Wu said scientists had thought the land where the fossils were excavated was formed in the Cenozoic Era, which dates back 65 million years, and that the former existence of dinosaurs was not possible, but local residents kept on digging up what they called "dragon's bones" to use as traditional Chinese medicine.
Scientists studied the "dragon's bones" and identified them as fossils of dinosaurs that lived between 85 to 100 million years ago in the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic Era.
The dinosaur was a vegetarian sauropoda and the fossils were well preserved, Wu said.
Scientists from the Henan provincial geological museum and the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences spent two years unearthing and researching the fossils and their findings were assessed by 30 scientists from China and the United States, Britain, Germany, and Japan, Wu said.
The discovery is very important for research into the geological distribution, migration, and evolution of this particular species of dinosaur, said Dong Zhiming, a scientist from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
(Xinhua News Agency July 4, 2007)