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Asia's heaviest dinosaur discovered

world Updated: Jul 04, 2007 13:00 IST

Chinese scientists have claimed to have unearthed fossils of the heaviest dinosaur in Asia in central China's Henan Province.

The fossils were discovered in an area between Santun and Liudian townships in Ruyang County, and the dinosaur, which has an unusually large coelom - the body cavity that contains the digestive tract - has been identified as Asia's heaviest, general engineer of the provincial land resources department, Wu Guochang said.

The dinosaur measures 18 meters long and its sacrum -- part of the vertebrae in the lower back - is as broad as 1.31 metres, making it broader than that of the dinosaur fossil unearthed in Gansu Province last year, which was then identified as Asia's heaviest dinosaur, Xinhua news agency quoted Wu as saying.

Scientists had thought the land where the fossils were excavated was formed in the Cenozoic Era, which dates back 65 million years, and that the former existence of dinosaurs was not possible, but local residents kept on digging up what they called "dragon's bones" to use as traditional Chinese medicine.

Scientists studied the "dragon's bones" and identified them as fossils of dinosaurs that lived between 85 to 100 million years ago in the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic Era.

The dinosaur was a vegetarian sauropoda and the fossils were well preserved, the report said.

Scientists from the Henan provincial geological museum and the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences spent two years unearthing and researching the fossils and their findings have been assessed by 30 scientists from China and the United States, Britain, Germany and Japan.