An extraordinary archeological event occurred this week when new fossils were unearthed in a hillside area in northwestern China may lead to a radical shift in the history one of the largest dinosaur’s lineage that has been known to man.
The discovery of Lingwulong shenqi, what seems to be one of the first members of the herbivore dinosaur subspecies named sauropods may have an unprecedented impact. Sauropods were a group of plant-eating dinosaurs with long tails and necks, little heads and powerful, robust legs. It is estimated that Lingwulong lived approximately 175 million year ago during the Jurassic period.
The translated name is ‘’the amazing dragon from Lingwu’’. Lingwu is the closest city to the site of the excavation. The bones of over 10 distinct Lingwulong were excavated. With the largest individual coming up at around 17.5 meters (or 57 feet) according to one source the discovery is landmark in dinosaur paleontology. A study was published in the journal Nature Communications by Xing Xu, who also led the study.
Lingwulong is the earliest advanced subspecies of the sauropod lineage, presenting evolutionary markers which distinguish it from the first sauropods which appeared almost 10000 years earlier. The discovery also pushes back the appearance of advanced sauropods by at least 15 million years. The lineage will come to include such massive beings as the Patagotitan, Dreadnoughts and Argentinosaurus.
Hile it was previously believed that the advanced sauropods appeared somewhere around 160 million years ago, and spread over the planet in about 5 million years, the theory has now been disproven as the process seems to have took over20 million years. This would make the spread more gradual, and explain the major evolution markers specific to each lineage. Lingwulong enjoyed tropical environments, with a warm climate which was also rich in precipitations. It is also though that Lingwulong lived in herds. More interesting data will be published as it becomes available.