“These animals were quickly covered by fine sediment while they were still alive or just after their death,” palaeontologist Pascal Godefroit of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, said.
The scientist said that the effect would be very similar to what happened in Pompeii. The new species was named Changmiania liaoningensis, according to the news release. Changmian means “eternal sleep” in Chinese.
Scientists deduce that the ornithopod lived during the Cretaceous period and that it was a small herbivore that could run very fast, based on the length of its tail and its leg composition. It was about 1.2 meters (about 4 feet) long.
“However, certain characteristics of the skeleton suggest that Changmiania could dig burrows, much like rabbits do today,” Godefroit said.
“Its neck and forearms are very short but robust, its shoulder blades are characteristic of burrowing vertebrates and the top of its snout is shaped like a shovel.”