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Remains of a 240-million-year-old “dragon” discovered in China

Scientists have discovered fossils of an ancient sea “dragon” in China that lived on earth 240 million years ago.

Nicknamed the “Chinese Dragon,” the animal belongs to the species Dinocephalosaurus orientalis, a reptile that used its long neck to hunt prey in shallow waters during the Triassic period. Dinocephalosaurus orientalis resembles the mythological fire breathers and water beasts of ancient lore.

The remains of the “dragon” were discovered back in 2003 in limestone deposits in southern China, but only now scientists have collected fragments of Vodino, restoring the full appearance of this ancient 5-meter-long predator.

New research findings published in the journal Earth and Environmental Science: Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh reveal surprising details about this ancient creature.

Nick Fraser, curator of natural sciences at the National Museums of Scotland, said that the Chinese Dragon continues to amaze paleontologists with its appearance, which is very reminiscent of the mythical Chinese dragon.

What surprised archaeologists most of all was its unique neck, 2.3 meters long and containing 32 vertebrae, which significantly exceeds the number of cervical vertebrae in giraffes and humans.

The snake-like shape of this ancient predator’s neck supposedly gave it the ability to stalk its prey using its upturned limbs. Some fish caught by the “Chinese Dragon” have survived to this day inside its belly, which indicates its predatory lifestyle.

Researchers note that despite its similarity to the mythical Loch Ness monster, the “Chinese dragon” is not closely related to plesiosaurs.

“We hope that our further research will help us decipher the evolution of this group of animals, especially the functioning of the elongated neck,” said study first author Stefan Spiekmann from the Stuttgart State Museum of Natural History.

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The discovery of the “Chinese Dragon” opens up new frontiers in the study of the evolution and adaptation of animals over millions of years.

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