Treasure Trove of Dinosaur Fossils Discovered

Reports have been circulating from a number of Chinese media outlets concerning the discovery of an extensive fossil bed containing the remains of numerous dinosaurs in southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality.  The fossil site has been known about for several years but there have been a number of reports this week circulating, hinting at the extent of the fossil discovery and indeed, suggesting that it is very likely that as a result of excavation work, new species of dinosaur will be named and described.

An Extensive Dinosaur Bonebed

Mapping and excavating a fossil site.
Excavating an extensive fossil deposit.

Picture credit: VCG

The photograph (above), shows a Chinese field team member working on the “wall of dinosaur fossils”.  The site of the fossil find is described as a location close to Laojun village, Pu’an town, in Yunyang county.

A New Dinosaur Species

The press reports state that scientists have identified different types of dinosaurs including theropods and basal ornithopods.  The disarticulated remains represent a bone accumulation and the strata is reported to be around 174 million years old (Aalenian faunal stage of the Middle Jurassic).  Commentators have described these fossil beds as very significant and likely to lead to the naming of new dinosaur species.

An Illustration of a Typical Basal Ornithopod

A typical ornithopod.
A typical example of a basal ornithopod. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Four Thousand Individual Fossil Pieces

The mixed fossil assemblage has already provided researchers with around 4,000 pieces of dinosaur bone to study, since the site was first explored and mapped in 2017.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The site has been described as exceeding 150 metres in length with at least 17 distinct assemblages of fossils within it.  Not much is known about the dinosaur biota from the earliest stages of the Middle Jurassic.  Once all the bones have been removed, prepared and studied it is very likely that several new species of dinosaur will be announced.  These dinosaurs will help palaeontologists to map the radiation and dispersal of several key groups of dinosaurs that were to dominate terrestrial ecosystems for the remainder of the Jurassic.”

The extensive fossil material could become China’s equivalent of America’s Dinosaur Monument in Utah.  The Dinosaur Monument represents a congregation of dinosaur fossils that accumulated in a river deposit.  Whilst similarities can be drawn between the two sites, the Chongqing Municipality deposits are approximately 25 million years older.

Perhaps, this could be China’s second “Great Wall”.

The Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.