STL Science Center

STL Science Center

18 April 2012

No One Ever Knows the Chinese Scientists

Monolophosaurus is not the most complete fossil ever found. It is also not the least complete. Additionally, it is not the only fossil found and named by a very prominent Chinese paleontologist that many people have never heard of despite having a career that has now spanned four decades. Three of his discoveries were named with other scientists, two with Currie and one with fellow Chinese paleontologist Young Chung Chien, but by himself, Zhao Xijin has named another fourteen species of dinosaur and found what is considered one of if not the largest dinosaur quarry in the world; a 985 foot long pit filled with over 3000 bones. He named Monolophosaurus jiangi with Philip Currie in 1994 after its crest and an "abandoned desert inn" called Jiangjunmiao near which the fossil was unearthed. The original paper of Zhao and Currie tentatively called Monolophosaurus a megalosaur, but subsequent studies and Zhao's own 2009 paper put Monolophosaurus in the area of a basal tetanuran; though others still claim allosauroid and even tyrannosauroid or ceratosauroid familial lines for Monolophosaurus. Missing as much of the skeleton as it is, it is hard to make a completely accurate assessment of the place in dinosaur history of Monolophosaurus. Another curious fact about that skeleton is that the 10th and 11th cervical vertebrae appear to be fused together, and their neural spines look as though they were fractured. Additionally, marks on the dentary bones of the animal appear to be tooth scrapes as though the animals was fighting or had been bitten near or after its death. The repairing of the vertebrae indicates that the fractures of the spines were not the actual cause of death however; you have to be alive to repair your body.

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