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Basal Tyrannosauroids From China and Evidence for Protofeathers in Tyrannosauroids


Basal Tyrannosauroids From China and Evidence for Protofeathers in Tyrannosauroids

Xing Xu et al. Nature.


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.

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