Big bird dinosaur fossil listed for protection in China
Beijing: China has listed for protection the remains of a big, bird-like dinosaur whose skeletal remains were accidentally discovered in inner Mongolia's Erlian basin in April 2005.
"National protection of the fossil is crucial to further research on the origin of life, biological evolution and climate changes," state-run Xinhua news agency quoted a spokesman of the land and resources bureau in Erenhot city as saying.
He said the move would help improve public awareness of heritage protection and crackdown on unauthorised excavation and smuggling of fossils that were once rampant in Erenhot, a city on the Chinese-Mongolian border known as "dinosaur town."
The feathered, but flightless "Gigantoraptor erlianensis" was eight metres long, over five metres tall and weighed about 1.4 tonnes.
Researchers said the dinosaur lived some 85 million years ago and died as a young adult in its 11th year, indicating it would have been much larger had it lived to a full-sized adult.
The dinosaur fossil was among the first items included on Ministry of Land and Resources' list of fossils for protection, Jia Yueming, curator of China geological museum said.
The list will be expanded to eventually include 400 kinds of animal fossils, he said.