Last updated July 26, 2018 at 3:01 pm
Superfamily spread out across the supercontinent.
When dinosaurs roamed the Earth, diplodocoids roamed more widely that previously thought, according to a new study.
International researchers now believe members of the superfamily of sauropod dinosaurs were distributed right across the supercontinent Pangaea, the giant landmass that included all the present continents, challenging conventional views on the origin and dispersal of diplodocoids and other neosauropods.
In a paper published in Nature Communications they report a new diplodocoid species from the early Middle Jurassic of China, approximately 174 million years ago.
Sauropods were long-necked, herbivorous dinosaurs and among the longest and largest land animals to have lived. Until now it had been thought that advanced sauropods, the neosauropods, diversified during the breakup of Pangaea and had not reached East Asia before it became isolated.
A team led by Xing Xu from the Chinese Academy of Sciences excavated several partial skeletons of a new previously unknown species of diplodocoid from the Lingwu region of China, naming it Lingwulong shenqi (literally, the Lingwu amazing dragon).
The fossils date from around 174 million years ago, making this species the earliest known neosauropod.
Evolutionary and biogeographic analyses including the new species now suggest that neosauropods were already diverse and widespread in the Middle Jurassic (about 174 to 163 million years ago), rather than rapidly becoming dominant at the transition to the Late Jurassic (163 to 145 million years ago) as previously thought.
Major sauropod groups also may have originated in the Early Jurassic, the researchers say.