Researchers have found the nearly complete and preserved skeleton of a dinosaur that could be as old as 200-million years.

The skeleton, described as the grandmother of all giant, four-footed sauropods, was unearthed near the southern china city of Lufeng. The discovery is important because the skull of the dinosaur is intact.

Yizhousaurus sunae was the fore-runner of the many long-necked sauropod dinosaurs that came to dominate the earth.

"The first complete skeleton of a pivotal ancestor of Earth's largest land animals," is what the research team has described this discovery. The team led by paleontologist Sankar Chatterjee, of Texas Tech University, will describe the at a Geological Society of America conference in Denver.

"Sauropods have these big bones but their skulls are very lightly constructed and also very small," Chatterjee said in a summary of the team's findings. The animal could have been a plant-eating dinosaur, similar to modern day giraffes.

"Once the plant food was ingested, a gastric mill in the stomach probably provided further mechanical breakdown of the plant," Chatterjee stated.