Paleontologists defined the gigantic, long-necked sauropods, also known as Lingwulong shenqi, using seven to ten skeletons from four different diggings in China.
Researchers published in Nature Communications on Tuesday a study which says that Lingwulong belonged to the diplodocid family.
Fossils date from over 174 million years ago, making Lingwulong the earliest known neosauropod.
In the Late Jurassic period, neosauropods lived between 163 million and 145 million years ago, as the researchers shown. But, the new fossils date back to 174 million years ago, suggesting they existed in Pangea much earlier, in the Middle Jurassic.
“The discovery of Lingwulong pushes back the origination times of many of the groups of sauropod dinosaurs that we think of as most iconic, and challenges many conventional ideas about the early biogeographical history of dinosaurs,” author and paleontologist at Imperial College London, Philip Mannion.
John Whitlock from the Mount Aloysius College, said he is reserved about the fact that Lingwulong is really a diplodocid. He added that the dinosaur is possible to be related to Middle Jurassic sauropods called Omeisaurus or Mamenchisaurus(China), due to their resemblances in skulls and vertebrae. But, there is still a possibility to be a diplodocid, because it’s very old and primitive, he said.
If Lingwulong is truly a diplodocid, will be the first one in East Asia. The meaning of the name came from: “Lingwu”, after the part where the samples were discovered and “long” means “dragon” in Mandarin Chinese, and “shenqi” for “amazing”. Together they make the “amazing dragon of Lingwu.”
However, it is hard to say how a dinosaur looks after its fossils.
Mannion said that they should have between 35 to 55 feet (11 to 17 meters) long and he thinks that they were moving slowly most of the time.