The discovery of a freakishly long-necked dinosaur at a construction site in China makes this the week of the long-necked dinosaur.
It was announced this week thatin London and will be replaced by the skeleton of an 85-foot blue whale. The decision to removed Dippy, the long-necked fixture at the museum, has been met with criticism by some while the #savedippy hashtag is trending and a petition has been started at change.org.
“If I am honest, there has been concern about Dippy going. But not a lot of people realize that it is not actually a real dinosaur, whereas the whale will be the real thing, which I think is important, says Sir Michael Dixon, Natural History Museum director explaining the decision.
Long-necked chinese dinosaur: A real dragon?
Unlike Dippy, construction workers digging in Qijiang City, China found real neck vertebrae while working in the south of China. The new dinosaur find as been named Qijianglong, or Dragon of Qijiang owing to its serpentine neck that may have measured up to half the length of the animal. Most long-necked dinosaurs, or sauropods, have necks that come in just shy of a third of length of the animal.
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One of the scientists at the University of Alberta who had an opportunity to study the newly discovered fossil spoke about the find.
‘It is rare to find a head and neck of a long-necked dinosaur together because the head is so small and easily detached after the animal dies,” said Tetsuto Miyashita. ‘Qijianglong is a cool animal. If you imagine a big animal that is half neck, you can see that evolution can do quite extraordinary things,’ he added.
Chinese dragon of myth?
“I wonder if the ancient Chinese stumbled upon a skeleton of a long-necked dinosaur like Qijianglong and pictured that mythical creature.”
The first vertebrae found by the construction workers were unearthed in 2006, and are believed to belong to a group of dinosaurs called mamenchisaurids which were plant-eating dinosaurs that roamed Asia about 160 million years ago during the Late Jurassic period.
“Qijianglong shows that long-necked dinosaurs diversified in unique ways in Asia during Jurassic times—something very special was going on in that continent,” said Miyashita who is a PhD student studying and working with palaeontologist professor Philip Currie at the University of Alberta.
“Nowhere else we can find dinosaurs with longer necks than those in China,” he said noting that the discovered vertebrae seemed to have large air pockets in them which would have made the neck somewhat lightweight no matter its length.
Miyashita also noted that he hopes to provide a theory as to why these mamenchisaurids seemed to enjoy isolation in China and didn’t migrate to other parts of Asia or beyond.