Japanese and Chinese scientists have announced the discovery of a new dinosaur species. This creature roamed the southwestern region of present-day Zhejiang Province in east China 100 million years ago before going extinct.
After studying dinosaur fossils accidentally found in 2000 at a village near the city of Lishui during the construction of a freeway, scientists named the new species "Zhejiangosaurus Lishuiensis", according to an article carried in Acta Geologica Sinica, an English-language academic quarterly magazine published by the Geological Society of China.
Local archeologists unearthed the well-preserved fossils consisting of two rear limbs, a hip, as well as parts of the spine, seven years ago. A six-member research team has conducted analyses at the Zhejiang Provincial Museum of Natural Sciences in Hangzhou.
The team concluded that the fossils indicated the Zhejiangosaurus Lishuiensis had been an adult herbivorous nodosaur, measuring six meters in length and more than one meter in height. They speculated that the creature had a "mild temperament and an ungainly build".
"This particular dinosaur had bony dermal plates covering the top of its body, with two lines of sharp spikes that protruded from its back and a clubless tail," said Jin Xingsheng, deputy curator of the Zhejiang Provincial Museum of Natural Sciences. He was also a member of the research team.
Nodosaur fossils are common archaeological finds in North America, but they are quite rare inside China. Before unearthing the find in Lishui, Chinese archaeologists had only discovered similar nodosaur fossils in Luoyang, located in central China's Henan Province.
Dr. Yoichi Azuma, curator of Japan's Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum and the only foreign scientist to have worked on the research team, guided Jin and four other Chinese scientists.
"With guidance from Yoichi Azuma, we have devoted much time over the last few years in repairing the fossils and trying to restore the original image of the Zhejiangosaurus Lishuiensis. A life-sized model of the dinosaur will be ready for public viewing in the museum later this year," said Jin.
In March this year fossils of dinosaur eggs belonging to larger bird-like dinosaur species known as Theropoda were also found in Tiantai, a county situated closer to the coast in Zhejiang.
"Our findings regarding the Zhejiangosaurus Lishuiensis will shed light on the climatic conditions dating back to the mid-Cretaceous Period in Zhejiang.”
(Xinhua News Agency August 15, 2007)