Sunday, September 29, 2013

SHUNOSAURUS: Unexpected Delights

(Drawing by Arthur Weasley)

Discovered in Sichuan Province in 1979, Shunosaurus of the Jurassic was one of the Primitive Sauropods. Chinese students had been practicing their excavation techniques how to dig out fossils when they found Him in a road side. Afterwards, scientists discovered several more complete skeletons of Shunosaurus. Since this Dinosaur lived in the Middle Jurassic (170 million years ago), paleontologists regarded this to be fortuitous. Not much was known about Sauropods during this time. Shunosaurus became one of the best- studied of the Sauropods since He filled in many of the gaps that scientists wondered about.
            Living in China with many long-necked Primitive Sauropods, Shunosaurus had to browse on the lower branches of trees, with his short but flexible neck. Since He was not one of the larger Sauropods, Shunosaurus had two things to help Him. Possessing more teeth than any other Sauropod, He had twenty-five teeth on each half of his lower jaw. This enabled Shunosaurus to munch on the tougher leaves rejected by other Sauropods. The other thing was his clubbed tail. Instead of a whip-like tail, Shunosaurus had a thick club studded with small spikes.
            Shunosaurus was an accidental discovery for paleontologists. Unexpectedly found by students, He filled-in their gaps of knowledge about the Middle Jurassic. Years after that discovery, his club tail was found. By studying Him, paleontologists theorize that other Sauropods had clubbed tails until They evolved into larger sizes.
            Shunosaurus teaches us that the world is full of unexpected surprises. We should be delighted when we encounter something completely different. Our curiosity leads us to exciting new experiences and new explorations. When we are bored, we can imagine a small Dinosaur with a clubbed tail who walloped predators willy-nilly. That alone should bring delight into our lives.

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