Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Two heads aren't better than one

Prehistoric 'two-headed Chinese dragon' revealed
Wednesday, 20 Dec 2006
Article from

Palaeontologists have unveiled the fossilised skeleton of a two-headed dinosaur that roamed the earth about 100 million years ago (MYA).

But before it gets added to the pantheon of prehistoric beasts occupied by luminaries such as Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops, scientists point out the dinosaur was only 70mm tall and died at a very young age.

Publishing their findings in the Royal Society journal, the Chinese palaeontologists discovered the specimen in the famed dinosaur stamping grounds of Yixian Formation in the north-east of the country, with its mixture of volcanic and sedimentary rocks an ideal place for fossils to be preserved.

They explain that the fossilised remains of the infant, possibly an aquatic diapsid such as Sinohydrosaurus lingyuanensis or Hyphalosaurus lingyuanensis, is the first time that axial bifurcation – where reptiles develop two heads and necks – has been observed in dinosaurs.

The condition occurs relatively commonly in turtles and snakes as a result of the species' regenerative qualities when suffering an embryonic lesion.

Many extraordinary fossils from the Yixian Formation have later been exposed as fakes, but the scientists from the Shenzen Palaeontological museum insist the fossilised remains of the infant, which would have grown to 1m long, are genuine.

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