Basal tyrannosauroids from China and evidence for protofeathers in tyrannosauroids

Nature. 2004 Oct 7;431(7009):680-4. doi: 10.1038/nature02855.

Abstract

Tyrannosauroids are one of the last and the most successful large-bodied predatory dinosaur groups, but their early history remains poorly understood. Here we report a new basal tyrannosauroid from the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation of western Liaoning, China, which is small and gracile and has relatively long arms with three-fingered hands. The new taxon is the earliest known unquestionable tyrannosauroid found so far. It shows a mosaic of characters, including a derived cranial structure resembling that of derived tyrannosauroids and a primitive postcranial skeleton similar to basal coelurosaurians. One of the specimens also preserves a filamentous integumentary covering similar to that of other coelurosaurian theropods from western Liaoning. This provides the first direct fossil evidence that tyrannosauroids had protofeathers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • China
  • Dinosaurs / anatomy & histology*
  • Dinosaurs / classification*
  • Feathers / anatomy & histology*
  • Fossils*
  • Integumentary System / anatomy & histology
  • Skeleton
  • Skull / anatomy & histology