Scottish scientists discover 240 million year old fossilized 'dragon' that ... trends now

Scottish scientists discover 240 million year old fossilized 'dragon' that ... trends now
Scottish scientists discover 240 million year old fossilized 'dragon' that ... trends now

Scottish scientists discover 240 million year old fossilized 'dragon' that ... trends now

Scientists have discovered the fossilized remains of a 240-million-year-old water-dwelling reptile dubbed the 'Chinese dragon.'

The ancient creature was named because of its long, snake-like appearance - as well as the fact that the Scottish team behind the discovery found it in China.

Though the fossilized skeleton was found curled up, measurements indicated that the creature was probably about five meters long, or 16.4 feet from nose to tail.

The discovery is not a brand new creature, but this specimen is more intact than past finds, and its posture let scientists get a remarkably clear look at its anatomy.

Scientists have named the prehistoric creature Dinocephalosaurus orientalis. The first name means 'terrible-headed lizard,' and the second part refers to the fact that it was found in East Asia

The reptile, which was described by Scottish scientists, bore a striking resemblance to the mythical Loch Ness Monster, with flippers and a long neck. 

Its bones were not the only ones in the paleontological find, though.

The well-preserved bones of fish were also found in its stomach region, suggesting that it was an aquatic predator. 

The dragon, whose scientific name is Dinocephalosaurus orientalis, had an extraordinarily long neck. 

Scientists counted a whopping 32 separate neck vertebrae bones.

Nick Fraser, keeper of natural sciences at National Museums Scotland, told BBC News that the specimen is 'a very strange animal.' 

For comparison, most mammals have just seven neck vertebrae, and even the famously long-necked dinosaur brachiosaurus had just 13.

This unique anatomy made the animal's neck longer than its body and its tail combined. 

With its long neck, Dinocephalosaurus orientalis draws a comparison to another strange marine reptile called Tanystropheus hydroides, scientists said.

This prehistoric beast lived at the same time - the Middle Triassic - in modern-day Europe and China.

'Both reptiles were of similar size and have several features of the skull in common, including a fish-trap type of dentition,' according to a statement. 'However, Dinocephalosaurus is unique in possessing many more vertebrae both in the neck and in the torso, giving the animal a much more snake-like appearance.'

The Chinese dragon was originally identified in 2003, but it was not until now that scientists had witnessed the true length of it, as several fewer vertebrae were found with that initial excavation. 

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