|This illustration shows what the newly discovered long-necked dinosaur may have looked like.|
Excerpt from cnn.com
Paleontologists have discovered a 50-ft "dragon" dinosaur species in China that may have roamed the earth 160 million years ago in the Late Jurassic period.
The long skeleton was found in 2006 by some local farmers digging for a fishpond in Qijiang city in China's southwestern Chongqing province.
Lida Xing, a member of the research team from the University of Alberta who made the discovery, told CNN it was named Qijianglong, the "dragon of Qijiang" because farmers thought the bones resembled the shape of Chinese mythical dragons.
"We found the dinosaur's huge vertebrae with the skull and the tail, but couldn't find any bones from the hands or the legs. So the locals began to say the long body looked just like a dragon from ancient Chinese stories," he said Xing.
The findings, published earlier this week in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, show that the new species belongs to a group of dinosaurs called mamenchisaurids, known for their extremely long necks, which would measure up to half their body length.
Most sauropods, or long-necked dinosaurs, such as those depicted in the popular animated series, "The Land Before Time," have necks that only span one third of their body length.
The skeleton is now housed in a local museum in Qijiang, but will be moved to a new dinosaur museum in the city that is currently being built.