Wulagasaurus

Wulagasaurus (/"woo-lag-ah-SORE-us"/; meaning "Wulaga lizard") is an herbivorous dinosaur belonging to the hadrosaurid family. Hadrosaurids, often called "duck-billed" dinosaurs, were widespread during the Late Cretaceous period. Wulagasaurus fossils have been discovered in the Yuliangze Formation of Heilongjiang Province in northeastern China. This formation dates to the late Maastrichtian stage of the Late Cretaceous, approximately 69 million years ago. Paleontologist Pascal Godefroit and his team described the genus in 2008. The name "Wulagasaurus" references the Wulaga region where the fossils were found. The species name, W. dongi, honors the contributions of prominent Chinese paleontologist Dong Zhiming.

 

Description and Classification

Wulagasaurus belongs to the Saurolophinae subfamily of hadrosaurids. Unlike their relatives, the lambeosaurines, saurolophines did not possess elaborate hollow crests on their skulls. Wulagasaurus was a large quadrupedal dinosaur with an estimated length of approximately 9 meters (30 feet). Like other hadrosaurs, it possessed a broad, duck-like beak and numerous specialized teeth for efficiently grinding tough plant material.

Currently, Wulagasaurus is known primarily from a partial dentary (lower jawbone). Further skeletal remains from the same bonebed have also been attributed to the genus, but a complete picture of its anatomy is yet to be revealed.

Relationships to Other Dinosaurs

The Yuliangze Formation is notable for its abundance of hadrosaurid fossils. Wulagasaurus shared its environment with the lambeosaurine Sahaliyania, suggesting these two closely related types of hadrosaurs occupied the same region during the Late Cretaceous.

Paleoenvironment and Diet

During the Late Cretaceous, the environment that is now the Yuliangze Formation likely consisted of lush floodplains. Wulagasaurus, with its specialized teeth and beak, was well-adapted for browsing on a variety of vegetation. Its diet likely included ferns, horsetails, and conifer plants.

Significance and Ongoing Research

Wulagasaurus expands the known diversity of hadrosaurid dinosaurs in the Amur River region of Asia. The relatively limited fossil material currently available highlights the potential for future discoveries to reveal more about this dinosaur. Further research on its skeletal remains will provide insights into the unique characteristics of Wulagasaurus and its relationships to other hadrosaurids, both within its region and on a broader scale.

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