Lufengosaurus (Lufeng lizard)
Lufengosaurus (Lufeng lizard)
Named By : C.-C. Young - 1940
Diet : Herbivore
Size : Estimated 6 meters long
Type of Dinosaur : Sauropod
Type Species : L. huenei (type), L. magnus
Found in : China - Lufeng Formation
When it Lived : Early Jurassic, 200-195 million years ago
Lufengosaurus, also known as Lu Feng Long in Chinese, or Lu Feng Long in Chinese, which means “Lufeng Lizard”, is a massospondylid dinosaur genus that lived during the Early Jurassic period of what is now southwestern China. In May 2021, a nearly intact lufengosaurus, discovered by paleontologists and Wang Tao (Head of the Dinosaur Conservation and Research Center, Lufeng City), was found in Lufeng City in the Province Yunnan in Southern China. The discovery of collagen protein in the ribs of Lufengosarus fossils, a 195-million-year old protein by scientists in 2017 made the dinosaur a global sensation.
In the 1930s, Bien Meinian, a geologist, began finding fossils at Shawan in Yunnan’s Lufeng. He was joined in 1938 by Yang Zhongjian (also known as C.C. Young in the West. Yang named the remains of Lufengosaurus huenei, a “prosauropod”, in 1940. Lufeng is the generic name. Yang’s former tutor, Friedrich von Huene, a German paleontologist, is the specific name.
IVPP V15, which is a partial skeleton was found in the Lower Lufeng Formation. It was the holotype. Originally considered Triassic, this formation is now seen as dating to the Lower Jurassic (Hettangian-Sinemurian). Yang named a second species in 1940/1941, and it was fully described in 1947. Lufengosaurus Magnus was, as the name implies (“the large one”) in Latin, a significantly larger creature (up to a quarter of a meter) than L. huenei. This is often considered to be a junior synonym for Lufengosaurus colorei in the West, which represents large individuals. There have been about thirty large specimens, some of which were juveniles. An exemplar of Lufengosaurus, a complete dinosaur skeleton, was discovered in China in 1958. A commemorative stamp of 8 Yuan was issued to commemorate the occasion. It was the first stamp that depicted a dinosaur on a stamp. The skeleton can now be seen at the Paleozoological Museum of China.
Yang also named Gyposaurus sinensis in 1940. This species was considered identical to Lufengosaurus by Peter Galton in 1976. It is located in China’s Bajocian stage deposits, making Lufengosaurus one the few “prosauropods” genera that survived into the Middle Jurassic. However, it is still not known if the identity of Lufengosaurus is correct.
Michael Cooper suggested in 1981 that Lufengosaurus was a species of South African genus Massospondylus. Paul Barrett and his colleagues reanalyzed the skull of Lufengosaurus huenei in 2005 to establish it as a separate genus from Yunnanosaurus or Massospondylus.
Zhao Xijin, based upon a specimen from Tibet, named another species Lufengosaurus changduensis in 1985. This remains an undescribed nomen nudum.
An international team headed by Yao Chang Lee from Taiwan’s National Synchrotron Radiation Research Center discovered preserved collagen protein in a Lufengosaurus dinosaur fossil in 2015. Nature Communications (January 31, 2017) described that the protein was more than 100 million years old than any fossil protein.
Lufengosaurus was a small early sauropodomorph that measured 6m (20 ft) in length. When the L. magnus specimens of Lufengosaurus are added, it is much larger: Gregory S. Paul estimates a length of 9m (30 ft) with a weight of 1.7metric tons (1.9 short tons). The neck of an early sauropodomorph is quite long, and the forelimbs are very short. These characteristics led to the conclusion that the species was bipedal. This was long before it became common for basal sauropodomorphs to assume that this was true. Yang published a complete osteology of Lufengosaurus, 1941. However, due to war conditions, Yang was unable to access all the literature and make a comparison with similar forms. A modern description of the skull is available. The skull of the Holotype measures 25 cm (9.8 inches) in length.