University of Alberta Researchers identified remains of a dinosaur estimated to have been 50 feet in length, with about half of that in just the neck. A skull, vertebrae and tail were found by farmers near Qijiang city, China about nine years ago. (The farmers were digging for a fish pond.) The researchers carefully studied the remains and just published their findings recently.
The farmers first called it, Qijianglong, which means “dragon of Quijiang”. The study paper says, “Qijianglong is the first mamenchisaurid from the Late Jurassic of China that is definitively distinct from Mamenchisaurus, indicating greater morphological and taxonomic diversity of the poorly represented Late Jurassic mamenchisaurids.” It was published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. The species was unique to Asia.
University of Alberta doctoral student Tetsuto Miyashita explained, “Qijianglong shows that long-necked dinosaurs diversified in unique ways in Asia during Jurassic times — something very special was going on in that continent. Nowhere else we can find dinosaurs with longer necks than those in China. The new dinosaur tells us that these extreme species thrived in isolation from the rest of the world.”
Qijianglong had neck vertebrae filled with air and a neck that was probably very rigid. One might assume there was a huge number of vertebrae, but giraffes only have seven, so perhaps the Qijianglong did not either.
It’s neck would have moved up and down much more easily than side to side. One of the researchers wondered if ancient people in China observed similar dinosaur remains and the image of a dragon was born. Dragons are an important part of Chinese culture, so such a speculation isn’t that unreasonable.
It has been written that some people in China considered themselves to descended from dragons and these mythical creatures were believed to have supernatural powers. For example, one belief was that they could cause floods.
A museum in Qijiang is where the new dinosaur skeleton is being kept for now.
Dinosaurs have fascinated humans for ages. The 3 Jurassic Park movies have grossed nearly 2 billion dollars worldwide.
Image Credit: Lida Xing, University of Alberta