China finds "largest dinosaur fossil site" in world

Tue Dec 30, 2008 5:54am EST
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BEIJING (Reuters) - Scientists in China say they have discovered the world's largest dinosaur fossil site in the eastern province of Shandong, state media reported on Tuesday.

Scientists had recovered some 7,600 fossils from a 300 meter (980 ft) long pit near Zhucheng city over the past seven months, Xinhua news agency said.

The finds included remains of a 20-meter hadrosaurus, which could be a record size for the duck-billed dinosaur, Xinhua said.

Scientists had put down tools for the winter, but said further excavations could yield more fossils.

Zhucheng, known locally as China's "Dinosaur City," has produced dinosaur fossils in some 30 sites, according to local media.

China, a relative late-comer to archaeology, has ramped up exploration in recent years and makes regular finds of rare fossils, which are sometimes smuggled out of the country to be sold for large sums.

In January, Australia handed back hundreds of kilograms of Chinese dinosaur fossils to Beijing, including eggs dating back hundreds of millions of years, recovered from warehouses and cargo containers in sting operations, Australian media reported.

(Reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Nick Macfie)

<p>A museum employee walks past the skeletal replica of a dinosaur at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum in Shanghai, June 22, 2007. REUTERS/Aly Song</p>