A few months ago, paleontologist Jun Liu published his findings of a new species of Turfanodon. Turfanodon was a reptile that lived about 250 million years ago. 

It is remarkable for its broad habitat range, which included both tropical and temperate locales.  He discovered it at Nine Peaks, Inner Mongolia, and calls it Turfanodon jiufengensis

Turfanodon is very interesting to paleontologists, especially since Professor Liu has found a near-complete skeleton. Often, paleontologists are lucky to find so much as a fossilized pinky toe. 

But his findings are only the most recent of a recent trend that is impossible to ignore. Professor Liu serves the Institute for Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. 

Paleontology has undergone an explosion in recent decades in China. New discoveries are emerging at a rate not seen since the 19th century, when the “Bone Wars” pervaded fossil hunting in the American West. But why is China getting so many discoveries and why now?



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Neil Ryan