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New dinosaurs reveal a hidden jurassic world in China9 min read

August 19, 2021 5 min read

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New dinosaurs reveal a hidden jurassic world in China9 min read

Reading Time: 5 minutes


Here’s a riddle for you: What’s better than a whole new gigantic blue- whale-sized dinosaur? 

2 new species of dinosaurs, as big as the blue whale, found in China -  Hindustan Times
Image: The Hindustan Times

Two whole new gigantic blue-whale-sized dinosaurs with the promise of some more

And guess what? We’ve got only the best for you. Palaeontologists in China just discovered two new dinosaur species in an area where no dinosaur has ever been found before! 

How did they find them?

Sticker Dinosaur Sticker by bildundtonfabrik

Scientists from China were digging away in the northwest region of the country when they stumbled upon a bunch of fossils. These fossils were hidden just beneath the surface of the Shengjinkou Rock Formation in Xinjiang and the Turpan-Hami Basin. The fossilised rocks seemed to hold the vertebrae and rib cages of some ancient species. This was already exciting as scientists have rarely found any vertebrate-prehistoric species in that area before. 

The first dinosaurs from the Early Cretaceous Hami Pterosaur Fauna, China |  Scientific Reports
Images of the fragments of vertebrae and rib cage found in the Shengjinkou Rock Formation. Image: Nature
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Vertebrates are all those species of animals that possess a spinal cord surrounded by a column of cartilage or bone. 

Eventually, when the scientists sent the fossils for analysis, the results that they got back couldn’t have been more exciting. They found that they had discovered two entirely new species of dinosaurs! They found these two along with two more dinosaurs of which belonged to well-known species. What’s even more exciting? Palaeontologists can finally paint a clearer picture of what the region looked like before us horrible humans started hanging around.

dinosaur GIF

What do we know about them?

It’s amazing how much we can tell from just a few bones of an animal. Scientists already know the diet, size, habits, and time period during which these dinosaurs roamed the planet. And with all that information, they’ve been able to identify that the fossils belonged to species that no one has ever heard of. Scientists have named the two species of dinosaur Silutitan sinensis and Hamititan xinjiangensisSo let’s meet these two prehistoric giants.

Mark Witton.com Blog: A mural for Dippy: restoring a celebrity Diplodocus  in art
Image: Mark Witton

Both species belong to the sauropod family, a group of plant-eatinglong-necked dinosaurs. They were some of the most massive creatures to have ever roamed the planet.

In fact, the two new species belong to a specific large group of Sauropods known as Somphospondyli. Somphospondyli dinosaurs roamed the planet between the early Jurassic and late cretaceous periods. Check out this chart to better understand when these vegetarian giants traipsed around. 

Science Snippets: What are the classifications of living things? | Animal  classification, Learning science, Homeschool science

Family?

When we say that these dinosaurs belonged to the sauropod family what do we mean? Did they have family dinners? Did they also have to hang out with relatives that they didn’t like? Well, no, the word family refers to a rung in the ladder of animal classification that scientists use to differentiate between one another. Study the chart to the right to understand how a grizzly bear is differentiated from the rest of the animal kingdom.
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These two dinosaurs roamed the planet between 130 and 120 million years ago. Look at the timeline chart and identify the period during which these two dinosaurs lived.

Scientists in China discover two new massive dinosaur species as big as  blue whales | The Independent
A man clicks a picture of the skeleton of a sauropod dinosaur in New Zealand. Image: The Independent

What’s in a name?

Take a moment to stare at the names of the two new dinosaurs ,Silutitan sinensis and Hamititan xinjiangensis. Take a minute and really dissect the names. What do you see? 

Silutitan sinensis

Hamititan xinjiangensis

Both names have the phrase titan in them, and that’s because the Greek word ‘titan’ means giant. And if these two dinos were anything at all, they were huge. The Silutitan sinensis species was over 20 metres long, while the Hamititan xinjiangensis was 17 metres long. For reference, the basketball player Lebron James is 2.06 metres tall.

The dinosaurs are thus almost as large as blue whales, which are about 23 to 30 meters (75 to 98 feet).
The coloured bones depict the fossils that helped scientists re-imagine the two sauropods. Image: The New York Post

The other two dinosaurs

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Wait a minute! Weren’t there more fossils? What about the other dinosaurs? Yes, the palaeontologists also found the rib cages and vertebrae of two more dinosaurs. One of them also happens a Sauropod and belongs to the Somphospondyli group. However, scientists are yet to identify whether it comprises a whole new species of dinosaurs or belongs to a species that we are already familiar with. 

The fourth dinosaur is a different potentially gory story. Unlike the others, this dinosaur belongs to the therapod family and was a not-so-friendly carnivorous giant. And, its corpse (whatever was left of it) was found right beside the gentle giant, Hamititan xinjiangensis.

Theropods | Science Amino
Some of the ferocious dinosaurs that belong to the therapy family. Image: Amino Apps

The big question

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When you hear about a carnivore hanging around with a herbivore, things never sound good. Don’t believe me? Just watch animal planet. So, did the carnivorous therapod eat the vegetarian sauropod, Hamititan xinjiangensis?!? Was the smaller carnivore feasting on Hamititan’s corpse?

Looks like things don’t have to be all that grim. The lack of tooth marks in the skeleton of the Hamititan xinjiangensis leave no evidence of any gory devouring.

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So, dinosaur gore aside, all this news is beyond exciting because it means that scientists have just unlocked an untapped world of prehistoric flora and fauna in the northwest of China. In fact, scientists believe that the Shengjinkou Rock Formation is teeming with fossils just beneath the surface. They think there are many new species, dinosaur eggs and a whole lot of secrets eagerly expecting to be discovered. Personally, I can’t wait to see what they find next.

With Excerpts From: CNN, The Independent, NPR,Good Morning America, and Sci-News.

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