Scientists Discover New Species Of Dinosaur Perfectly Preserved By Volcanic Eruption
Two perfectly preserved fossils - believed to be around 125 million years old - were discovered in the Lujiatun Beds, in north-eastern China.
Palaeontologists at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) think the burrowing creatures may have been trapped by a volcanic eruption, leaving behind 'two magnificent skeletons'.
"These animals were quickly covered by fine sediment while they were still alive or just after their death," said Pascal Godefroit, palaeontologist at the RBINS.
Scientists have named the species 'Changmiania liaoningensis', with Changmiania meaning 'eternal sleep' in Chinese - which is quite poetic for scientists really.
But anyways, back to the sciencey stuff. They say the species was a herbivorous, bipedal dinosaur of about 1.2 metres in length - which if you're not very sciencey at all basically means it ate plants, walked on two legs and wasn't very big, by dinosaur standards anyway.
It's also been described as the most primitive ornithopod dinosaur to date, ornithopods being a group of herbivorous dinosaurs that flourished in the Cretaceous period (between 66 and 145.5 million years ago).
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They also reckon its powerful hind legs and stiff tale would have made it a particularly rapid little critter.
Godefroit said: "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."
The team's findings were published in the PeerJ scientific journal earlier this month, which you can read here if you fancy learning a load more about the Changmiania liaoningensis.
Featured Image Credit: Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
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