China finds “longest neck”

Scientists have found that a sauropod from the late Jurassic had the longest neck ever recorded — an analysis of its vertebrae showed that it was 15.1 meters long. The study was published March 15 in the Journal of Systems Paleontology.

The neck of the Central Horse Gate Creek Dragon may have been 15 meters long. Image credit: Júlia d’Oliveira

The fossilized skeleton of ” ” C. ” was discovered in 1987 in Xinjiang , China, and included some vertebrae and a rib. The report found that its original paper did not provide its neck length, but suggested it could be between 10 and 11 meters. Until now, the size and weight of this dinosaur have not been fully determined.

Instead of simply analyzing what dinosaur skeletons looked like and the characteristics of their overall skeletons, paleontologists considered their evolutionary connections to similar but more complete specimens. Andrew Moore, of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, said: “It’s very simple and shows that we have benefited from other species that have been discovered during this time[since the discovery of Ceramas Creek]. ”

Moore and other researchers analyzed the relative proportion of the vertebrae of the Chinese Gammenxi dragon and compared it to dinosaurs with complete cervical vertebrae fossils, estimating its neck length at 15.1 meters, which is 6 times the length of the neck of a giraffe.

Another question Moore et al. are trying to solve is how the sauropod could bear the weight of such a long neck.

Using computed tomography, the researchers found that 69 to 77 percent of the vertebrae were empty. “We thought it was possible to have such a long neck. Not only is this because replacing bone marrow with air makes bones lighter, but it may limit the mobility of the neck, making it easier to fill with air. Moore said. Researchers believe that the interconnected neck ribs below the neck also help support the neck.

David Hone of Queen Mary University of London said: “The long necks of these animals are amazing even by dinosaur standards, and understanding their evolution is important to understand how these animals live. ”

Natalia Jagielska, of the University of Edinburgh, said the study showed there was more to dinosaurs and what could be learned from them. She is excited about the potential of future research. “Long-necked dinosaurs evolved a unique way of coping with giganturization and supporting long necks. There are also many amazing deposits of long-necked sauropods throughout China. (Source: China Science News Wang Jianzhuo)

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