2015 – Qijianglong Described
On this day in dinosaurs, a Chinese sauropod roared into the scientific literature for the first time. Qijianglong might look like a tongue twister to native English speakers, but its name comes from the Qijiang district and the Mandarin word “long” which translates to “dragon.”
Qijianglong belongs to a family called mamenchisaurids–long-necked sauropod dinosaurs with extremely long necks compared to the proportions of some of their close cousins. The holotype specimen dates to the late Jurassic and includes a complete series of 17 neck vertebrae, 6 vertebrae from the animal’s back, 28 tail vertebrae, ribs, and other skeletal elements–including parts of the skull and jaw, which are exceedingly rare in sauropod dinosaurs.
Paleontologists estimate the holotype specimen of Qijianglong stretched to about 50 feet long. What’s even more surprising is that this particular specimen comes from a juvenile. Qijianglong still had growing to do.