Mud Dragon Dinosaur Unearthed At A Building Site In Southern China

Posted: Nov 11 2016, 2:43pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

Mud Dragon Dinosaur Unearthed at a Building Site in Southern China
An artist's illustration of winged dinosaur, known as Tongtianlong or Mud Dragon. Credit: Zhou Chuang
  • Dinosaur discovery casts light on final flurry of animals' evolution
 

A Mud Dragon fossil shows that the creatures flourished before the final phase of the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.

A novel dinosaur fossil has offered paleontologists clues as to the flourishing of certain animals just before the massive extinction took place. It is called a Mud Dragon and has been preserved almost in an intact form.

Its wings and neck are laid out in the fossil. The creature may have died in this state many millions of years ago. The southern Chinese region in which this fossil of new species was found lent it the name of Tongtianlong limosus, meaning 'muddy dragon on the road to heaven'.

This creature belonged to feathered dinosaurs which were called oviraptosaurs. They had small stubby toothless heads and very sharp beaks. Some of them even had outgrowths of bone on their heads.

These were most probably meant to invite the opposite sex and deter other Alpha Males in the same manner as is seen in cassowaries.

These creatures were undergoing a growth spurt during the period when the great extinction of the dinosaurs began. This was 15 million years before the dinosaurs died out.

They were the last dinosaurs to exist before the asteroid impact that wiped out all non-bird dinosaurs. Via explosives, the Chinese mined for the rare fossil of this Mud Dragon.

This novel dinosaur may be the most beautiful fossil to have been unearthed. Yet looking at it also saddens one considerably seeing what happened afterwards when all the dinosaurs were wiped off the face of the earth.

It is a fluke that the Mud Dragon got stuck in the dirt and it is a miracle that today we have its fossil in an intact form before us. The asteroid that came and changed the state of the world was a tragedy for the dinosaurs but a blessing for the mammals which flourished afterwards.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, was carried out in collaboration with the Institute of Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences and the Dongyang Museum, China.

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