A new study has confirmed the discovery of two new species of dinosaurs in northwest China, which scientists say are some of the first vertebrates uncovered in the region.
The research, published in Nature’s Scientific Reports on Thursday, per CNN, is based on the analysis of fossils collected in Xinjiang and the Turpan-Hami Basin. Two of the fossil specimens were found to be from previously unknown species, named Silutitan sinensis (“silu” means “Silk Road” in Mandarin) and Hamititan xinjiangensis (a nod to the related region).
The “titan” part of their monikers refers to the massive size of the newly-discovered dinosaurs. Researchers estimate that the Silutitan species would have measured over 20 meters long, while the Hamititan specimen may have been as big as 17 meters long, making them both close in size to blue whales, which can grow to colossal lengths of 23-30 meters.
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Both new species date back to the early Cretaceous period about 120-130 million years ago. They belong to the sauropod family, whose members are known for being large-bodied with characteristically long necks and tails. As per the study, apart from one pterosaur species and a theropod tooth, these dinosaurs are the first vertebrates reported in the region.
Researchers have discovered a number of new dinosaur fossils across the country in recent years, offering new insight into the diversity of the reptiles that once roamed East Asia, though the studies have also triggered some debates, including a discourse over the relationships between the species and their classifications, which is said to be ongoing.
For more dinosaur discoveries and developments, read about the complete skull of the smallest known dinosaur that was found preserved in amber, find out about the tyrannosaur species that scientists dubbed “Reaper of Death”, and take a look at another recent study that suggests mercury contamination occurred prior to dinosaur extinction.