A pair of dinosaurs were buried some 125 million years ago when a nearby volcano erupted, sending lava down the valley and trapping them in an underground grave.
The story of the dinosaurs has now been brought to life after farmers in China discovered the perfectly preserved creatures in Liaoning province in northeastern China, which were an unknown species of dinosaurs, according to The Daily Mail.
Paleontologists noticed their eyes were closed when they were buried alive, naming them Changmiania liaoningensis, which means "eternal sleeper" in Chinese. The dinosaurs are believed to have died from asphyxiation, toxins and infections, due to the posture of the skeletons.
"It is tentatively hypothesized that both Changmiania liaoningensis specimens were suddenly entrapped in a collapsed underground burrow while they were resting, which would explain their perfect lifelike postures and the complete absence of weathering and scavenging traces," reads the study published recently in the journal PeerJ.
Researchers found the two were laying on the ground with their eyes closed, as if they died in their sleep. Markings on their hip bones suggest they burrowed, leading experts to believe they were sleeping underground when the eruption occurred.
The dinosaurs were about three feet in length when alive and each had long, flexible tails, along with the ability to walk upright on its hind legs. The creatures also had shovel-shaped snouts, which would have helped with digging swiftly and efficiently.
The neck and forearm were short but strong, and its shoulder blades resembled those of modern burrowing animals.
The team noted that the tails of the dinosaurs had been stretched out due to stiffness. The area is also covered with debris from an ancient volcanic eruption, along with fossils of other creatures that got in its way.