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Huge dinosaur discovery in east China
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Paleontologists in east China have dug up what they believe is one of the world's largest group of dinosaur fossils including the remains of an enormous "platypus", the Xinhua News Agency said Tuesday.

Paleontologists have discovered 15 areas near Zhucheng city in Shandong province that contain thousands of dinosaur bones, the report said.

"This group of fossilised dinosaurs is currently the largest ever discovered in the world... in terms of area," the Beijing News quoted paleontologist Zhao Xijin of the China Academy of Sciences as saying.

In one area measuring 300 metres (990 feet) by 10 metres, more than 3,000 bones were found. Since digging began in March scientists have discovered more than 7,600 bones.

Included in the find was the largest "platypus" -- or "duck-billed dinosaur" in Chinese -- ever discovered measuring nine metres high with a wingspan wider than 16 metres.

Zhao said the discovery of so many dinosaurs in such a dense area could provide clues on how the animals became extinct towards the end of the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago, the Beijing News said.

Scientists have also identified the remains of ankylosaurus, tyrannosaurus and coelurus.

Xinhua said paleontologists are expecting to find many more remains in the area, which lies in a region that has produced more than 50 tonnes of dinosaur fossils since the 1960s.

Plans are being made to set up a fossil park in the area, but local mine operations that were suspended for the dig are eager to resume mining, Xinhua said.

(Agencies via China Daily December 31, 2008)

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