Scientists have declared they have discovered a new dinosaur species after studying several fossils found in northwestern China. The prehistoric remains were discovered in 2006 in a remote area of Xinjiang.
According to researchers at George Washington University, the fossils have been identified as a new species of small theropod; or in other words, a carnivorous dinosaur.
Originally found by James Clark, the Ronald B. Weintraub Professor of Biology, Department of Biological Sciences of George Washington University's Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, and Jonah Choiniere, a doctoral student at the time, along with a team of international researchers, the remains have undergone study since they were uncovered.
The dinosaur was not found completely intact, however, from the sounds of it, enough remains were found in order to give researchers a clear idea of its makeup. Found in the secluded region were a skull, a mandible and a partial skeleton of the dinosaur.
“All that was exposed on the surface was a bit of the leg. We were pleasantly surprised to find a skull buried in the rock too,” Dr. Clark said.
This prehistoric creature walked the Earth over 161 million years ago, in the earliest part of the Late Jurassic Period, said the scientists.
Small in nature, the newly discovered dino is described as being approximately 3 feet long (1 meter) and just 3 pounds. However, researchers have also suggested this specimen was more than likely a young dinosaur and had not possibly yet reached its full growth. They believe the dinosaur was under a year old at the time it became fossilized.
“We were able to look at microscopic details of Aorun’s bones and they showed that the animal was less than a year old when it died on the banks of a stream,” said Dr. Choiniere.
Choiniere is now working at the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa as a senior researcher, according to media reports.
The team named the new species "Aorun zhaoi", after the Dragon King in the Chinese literary work, "Journey to the West".
According to Red Orbit, while a new species, the researchers classified Aorun zhaoi as belonging to the same suborder as the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Its teeth suggested the Dragon King dinosaur was also a meat-eater. Reportedly, the dinosaur had numerous small teeth.
In their report, the researchers describe their techniques and logic in differentiating this dinosaur from other previously discovered species. Full details of this find have been published online in the May 3, 2013 edition of the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology.