Perfectly Intact Fossils of Dinosaurs Trapped by Volcanic Eruption 125 Million Years Ago, Discovered

Two (2) nearly complete skeletons of a new species of burrowing dinosaur have been recently found in the Lower Cretaceous Lujiatun Beds of western Liaoning Province of China.

The intact fossils of the said new species of dinosaur are of the Changmiania liaoningensis, the most primitive ornithopod dinosaur to date. Ornithopods are a group of herbivorous dinosaurs that flourished in the Cretaceous period.

Tentatively, it was hypothesized the two Changmiania liaoningensis specimens were trapped by a volcanic eruption at the bottom of their burrows while they were resting. In Chinese, Changmian means “eternal sleep.”

“…certain characteristics of the skeleton suggest that Changmiania could dig burrows, much like rabbits do today. Its neck and forearms are very short but robust, its shoulder blades are characteristic of burrowing vertebrates and the top of its snout is shaped like a shovel. So we believe that both Changmiania specimens were trapped by the volcanic eruption when they were resting at the bottom of their burrows 125 million years ago.”

– Pascal Godefroit a palaeontologists from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, a co-author of the study

More Info About the Changmiania Liaoningensis

Although the Changmiania liaoningensis skeletons were discovered in the Lujiatun Beds, the oldest layers of the famous Yixian Formation which has already produced several preserved feathered dinosaur skeletons for more than 20 years, it was said that the Changmiania has not retained traces of feathers.

However, most of the skeletons are “incredibly well preserved” in three dimensions and their bones have not been moved after their death.

Here is more information about the Changmiania liaoningensis as stated by the scientists:

  • It is the most basal representative of ornithopods found to date
  • It was a small, herbivorous, bipedal dinosaur, about 1.2 meters long
  • Has very powerful hind legs and long and stiff tail
  • Changmiania was a particularly fast runner
  • Changmiania could dig burrows

About the Study

The study about this discovery made by Yuqing Yang, Wenhao Wu, Paul-Emile Dieudonné, and Pascal Godefroit was published in the scientific journal PeerJ on September 8, 2020. It is called the “A new basal ornithopod dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of China.”

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Source: Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Scientific Journal PeerJ

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