Paleontologists have discovered a new species of dinosaur in Asia.
The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences says two “perfectly preserved” fossils were found in the Lujiatun Beds in the Liaoning Province of northeastern China.
The intact fossils suggest that the burrowing dinosaurs were trapped by a volcanic eruption while resting at the bottom of their burrows, according to the institute. Some paleontologists believe the dinosaurs were victims of a gigantic volcanic eruption.
“These animals were quickly covered by fine sediment while they were still alive or just after their death,” said paleontologist Pascal Godefroit
The institute says the Lujiatun Beds would have been a kind of Cretaceous “Pompeii.”
Fittingly, the new species has been named Changmiania liaoningensis, with Changmian meaning “eternal sleep” in Chinese.
Paleontologists estimate these newly discovered dinosaurs roamed the earth about 125 million years ago.
The institute says they were small, herbivorous, bipedal dinosaurs, about 1.2 meters long. With very powerful hind legs and a long, stiff tail, paleontologists believe they were particularly fast runners.
“However, certain characteristics of the skeleton suggest that Changmiania could dig burrows, much like rabbits do today,” said Godefroit. “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.”
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