A map of Asia in Jurassic times The great continent of Asia teemed with dinosaurs during the Jurassic Period. Asia was at that time not quite as vast as it is today. The high sea levels of the time flooded some regions. The Indian subcontinent was completely missing, still thousands of kilometres away, close to Africa. It would take millions of years to drift slowly north and join with Asia, throwing up the Himalayas as the two landmasses crumpled together. Europe and Asia meet at the Ural Mountains today, but in Jurassic times they were separated by a narrow strait.
A scene in China in Mid-Jurassic timesJurassic Asian giants included Mamenchisaurus and another sauropod, Shunosaurus, which had a spiky tail club to swing at its enemies. Tuojiangosaurus was a type of stegosaur about 7 metres (23 feet) long. The spikes on its back and tail were useful defence against the deadly meat-eater, Yangchuanosaurus. Huayangosaurus, 4 metres (13 feet) long, lived in Middle Jurassic times in China. It was an early type of stegosaur, with plates and spikes of bone running along its back and tail. Later the stegosaurs spread to other continents, especially North America.
Living alongside these bulky giants were tiny dinosaurs, some less than a metre long. Xiaosaurus ran about in the undergrowth looking for ferns and other plants to eat.
Much of what we know about Chinese dinosaurs of the Jurassic Period comes from fossils discovered in the Dashanpu Formation rocks in Sichuan. The first dinosaur fossil to be found there, Gasosaurus, was accidentally uncovered by a Chinese gas company's bulldozer in 1985.
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