Fossil of a 240-million-year-old “dragon” found for the first time


By John

A new fossil discovered in ancient limestone deposits in Southern China has made an extraordinary discovery, that of a species of dragon dating back 240 million years. The news, relaunched by the BBC, was published first by the journal “Earth and Environmental Science: Transactions of the Royal Society” of Edinburgh, with an extensive description of a series of new fossils of the animal.

The Dinocephalosaurus orientalis, this is the scientific name of the species identified for the first time in 2003, contained in the fossil is miraculously complete, allowing scientists to observe for the first time the overall anatomy of this bizarre prehistoric animal. The name dragon is given to it because of its extremely long neck, even though it is a 5 meter long aquatic reptile from the Triassic period.

Nick Fraser, of National Museums Scotland, who was part of the international team that studied the fossil, described it as “a very strange animal, with fin-like limbs, a super flexible neck longer than the body and tail combined.” . The researcher hypothesized that the extreme flexibility of the prehistoric dragon's neck was due to its 32 separate vertebrae, which may have given it an advantage in hunting by allowing it to search for food in underwater crevices.