'Dragon' Dinosaur Fossil With Massive Neck Discovered in China

PHOTO: A newly-discovered dinosaur species in China has a neck that spans half of its body.Lida Xing
A newly-discovered dinosaur species in China has a neck that spans half of its body.

Here's a dinosaur that really knows how to stick its neck out above the rest.

Called the "dragon of Qijiang," for the Chinese city in which the fossil was found, the newly-discovered dinosaur species has a lightweight neck that spans half the length of its 50-foot body.

The dinosaur, a variety of sauropod, is believed to have lived 160 million years ago during the Late Jurassic period, according to paleontologists at the University of Alberta who excavated the fossils. Construction workers first uncovered the fossil in 2006, the researchers noted.

The physical attributes of the dinosaur, especially its long neck, are similar to the traits of mythical dragons, which inspired its name.

"I wonder if the ancient Chinese stumbled upon a skeleton of a long-necked dinosaur like Qijianglong and pictured that mythical creature," Tetsuto Miyashita, a paleontologist who worked on the project, said in a statement.

The findings were published on Wednesday in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Carrying around such a long neck was surprisingly easy for the dinosaur, since paleontologists said they believe its vertebrae were filled with air, making it lightweight despite its incredible size.