'Amazing Dragon' Fossil Upends Origins of World's Largest Dinosaurs
The find comes hot on the heels of another sauropod discovery that also tweaks theories about their evolution.
Long-necked dinosaurs were the largest animals that ever walked on land. Moving cathedrals of sinew and bone, these plant-eating giants—called sauropods—could stretch up to 120 feet from head to tail. At their heaviest, they weighed a staggering 70 tons.
But a new study published today in Nature Communications takes a whack at sauropods' conventional origin story. A new Chinese species of sauropod named Lingwulong shenqi—the “amazing dragon of Lingwu”—directly implies that major groups of Earth's largest land animals arose some 15 million years earlier than previously thought.
The announcement comes mere weeks after another blockbuster paper in Nature Ecology and Evolution revealed that sauropods' early days were a time of evolutionary experimentation. An ancient cousin of classic sauropods named Ingentia