New type of stegosaur with spear-like bones is dug up in China

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A new species of stegosaurus that roamed the Earth some 168 million years ago is the oldest ever discovered in Asia after being unearthed in China.

Remains of the stegosaurus, including bones of the back, shoulder, thigh, feet and ribs, as well as several armor plates, were found at a site in Chongqing, southwestern China.

Dating to the Bajocian stage of the Middle Jurassic period — much earlier than most known stegosaurs — researchers say they may be the oldest stegosaurus fossils ever discovered worldwide.

The paleontologists say they hope their discovery will shed light on how stegosaurs evolved.

The new species has been named Bashanosaurus primitivus – ‘Bashan’ in reference to the ancient name for the area of ​​Chongqing in China where the dinosaur was found, and primitivus because it is Latin for ‘first’.

A new species of stegosaurus that roamed the Earth some 168 million years ago is the oldest ever discovered in Asia after being unearthed in China.  It has been given the name Bashanosaurus primitivus (shown in an artist's impression)

A new species of stegosaurus that roamed the Earth some 168 million years ago is the oldest ever discovered in Asia after being unearthed in China. It has been given the name Bashanosaurus primitivus (shown in an artist’s impression)

WHAT ARE STEGOSAURUSES?

Most known stegosaurs date back to much later in the Jurassic period, but some species may have lived as early as 168 million years ago.

They are large herbivores that were heavily armored.

They are known for their iconic and famous bony plates that line their backs.

The armored defenses were made of bone, and the plates allowed them to ward off predators.

The relatively small but terrifying-looking stegosaur was about 2.8 meters long from nose to tail, but scientists can’t say whether the remains are those of an adult or a juvenile.

It has a smaller and less developed blade, a narrower and thicker base for its armor plates, and other features that differ from all other Middle Jurassic stegosaurs discovered to date.

It does, however, have similarities with some of the first armored dinosaurs, dating back more than 20 million years.

“All these features are clues to the place of the stegosaurs in the dinosaur family tree,” said lead author Dr. Dai Hui of the Chongqing Bureau of Geological and Mineral Resource Exploration and Development.

‘Bashanosaurus can be distinguished from other Middle Jurassic stegosaurs and clearly represents a new species.

In addition, our analysis of the family tree indicates that it is one of the earliest diverging stegosaurs, along with the Chongqing Lizard (Chungkingosaurus) and Huayangosaurus.

“These have all been excavated from the mid- to late Jurassic Shaximiao Formation in China, suggesting that stegosaurs may have originated in Asia.”

dr. Hui added: “Bashanosaurus is the oldest stegosaurus discovered in Asia — and possibly the world.”

Immediately recognizable by the huge back plates, long tail tips and small head, stegosaurs were four-legged, herbivorous dinosaurs that lived during the Jurassic and early Cretaceous.

Stegosaur fossils have been found on all continents except Antarctica and Australia, and 14 species of stegosaurs have been identified so far.

Known members of Stegosauria include Huayangosaurus (one of the most primitive stegosaurs), Gigantspinosaurus, known for its massive shoulder backs, and Miragaia for its extremely long neck.

However, the fragmentary fossil material hindered attempts to understand how the stegosaurs evolved and how they relate to each other.

Bashanosaurus primitivus has several primitive features similar to the earliest stegosaurs – including longer tail vertebrae, a scapula that is narrower and flared, and features of the dorsal vertebrae similar to the early armored dinosaur Scelidosaurus, which lived during the early Jurassic.

The bizarre armor would have been used to fight off carnivorous predators such as Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus.

Pictured, a complete fossil of stegosaurus on display at the Natural History Museum

Pictured, a complete fossil of stegosaurus on display at the Natural History Museum

Pictured, a complete fossil of stegosaurus on display at the Natural History Museum

Fossils of Allosaurus have been found with large holes believed to have been created by a stegosaur’s tail spike.

The natural weapons also acted as a thermoregulatory mechanism to keep the creature cool and help attract mates.

The fossilized remains of Bashanosaurus also reveal a host of features that make it unique from other known stegosaurs.

For example, the bony tip at the end of the scapula is small and less well developed than in other stegosaurs; a bony projection of the femur (fourth trochanter) is located below the center of the shaft; and the bases of the armor plates bend outward and are thicker than the plates on the backs of its later relatives.

Study co-author Dr. Susannah Maidment, of London’s Natural History Museum, said: ‘The discovery of this stegosaurus from the Middle Jurassic of China adds to a growing body of evidence that the group evolved in the early Middle Jurassic, or perhaps even the Early Jurassic, and as such represent some of the earliest known bird hip dinosaurs.

“China appears to have been a hotspot for stegosaur diversity, with numerous species now known from the Middle Jurassic to the end of the Early Cretaceous.”

Bashanosaurus is described in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

REDUCE DINOSAURS: HOW A CITY SIZE ASTEROID DESTROYS 75 PERCENT OF ALL ANIMAL AND PLANT SPECIES

About 66 million years ago, non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out, wiping out more than half of the world’s species.

This mass extinction paved the way for the rise of mammals and the appearance of humans.

The Chicxulub asteroid is often cited as a possible cause of the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction.

The asteroid slammed into a shallow sea in what is now the Gulf of Mexico.

The collision released a huge cloud of dust and soot that caused global climate change and wiped out 75 percent of all animal and plant species.

Researchers argue that the soot needed for such a global catastrophe could only come from a direct impact on rocks in shallow water around Mexico, which are particularly rich in hydrocarbons.

Within 10 hours of the impact, a massive tsunami ripped through the Gulf Coast, experts believe.

About 66 million years ago, non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out, wiping out more than half of the world's species.  The Chicxulub asteroid is often cited as a possible cause of the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction (stock image)

About 66 million years ago, non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out, wiping out more than half of the world's species.  The Chicxulub asteroid is often cited as a possible cause of the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction (stock image)

About 66 million years ago, non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out, wiping out more than half of the world’s species. The Chicxulub asteroid is often cited as a possible cause of the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction (stock image)

This caused earthquakes and landslides in areas as far as Argentina.

While investigating the event, researchers found small particles of rock and other debris that were shot into the sky when the asteroid crashed.

These tiny particles, called spherules, covered the planet with a thick layer of soot.

Experts explain that the loss of light from the sun caused a complete collapse of the water system.

This is because the phytoplankton base of almost all aquatic food chains would have been eliminated.

It is believed that the more than 180 million years of evolution that brought the world to the Cretaceous Period were destroyed in less than the lifespan of a Tyrannosaurus rex, which is about 20 to 30 years.

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