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 Undiscovered dinosaur species almost destroyed by dynamite in China

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PostSubject: Undiscovered dinosaur species almost destroyed by dynamite in China   Fri Nov 11, 2016 6:19 pm



A beautifully preserved fossil of a new species of dinosaur has been unearthed by construction workers in China, who almost destroyed the bones while blasting bedrock to build a school.
The roughly two-metre-long creature was found in a contorted position with wing-like arms, a toothless beak and a dome-shaped crest atop its head.
The dinosaur, called Tongtianlong limosus — "muddy dragon on the road to heaven" — lived 66 to 72 million years ago, near the end of the more than 160-million-year reign of dinosaurs on Earth.
University of Edinburgh palaeontologist Dr Stephen Brusatte told the BBC "we almost never knew about this dinosaur".
"It was found at a construction site by workmen when they were dynamiting, so they nearly blasted this thing off the hillside," he said.
While the specimen was likely originally a complete fossil, some portions of the skeleton are missing after workers unknowingly blasted away some of the surrounding rocks with dynamite.
PHOTO: The whole skeleton of the Tongtianlong limosus. (Supplied)

The Cretaceous Period creature was a member of a group called oviraptorosaurs, one of the closest relatives to birds which evolved earlier from small, feathered dinosaurs.
The discovery of Tongtianlong and five other oviraptorosaur species in southern China showed this group was still blossoming and diversifying during the last few million years before dinosaurs were wiped off the Earth, Dr Brusatte said.
"The fact there were so many of them is a testament to just how well the dinosaurs were doing right up until the end," Dr Brusatte added.
The fossil preserved a tragic moment for posterity.
"Its neck is arched, its head sticking up, its arms out-stretched to the sides. It is a strange posture," Dr Brusatte said.
The fact the fossil was found in rock formed from mud and the skeleton is in pristine condition suggests the dinosaur got mired in mud, tried to get free, but died and was buried, Dr Brusatte said.
Other previous dramatic fossil finds include Mongolia's famous "fighting dinosaurs", a Velociraptor and Protoceratops apparently locked in mortal combat when a sand dune collapsed on them.
Tongtianlong was a two-legged omnivore, with a bony crest on its short, squat skull that was probably used for display purposes to attract mates and intimidate rivals. Its arms likely had quill-like feathers layered over each other like on a wing, though it could not fly.
"If you saw the 'Mud Dragon' alive, you probably would have said, 'That's a big, funny-looking bird'," Dr Brusatte said.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-11/unknown-dinosaur-species-almost-blown-up-by-dynamite/8016394
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