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An exceptionally well-preserved theropod dinosaur from the Yixian Formation of China


Two spectacular fossilized dinosaur skeletons were recently discovered in Liaoning in northeastern China. Here we describe the two nearly complete skeletons of a small theropod that represent a species closely related to Compsognathus. Sinosauropteryx has the longest tail of any known theropod, and a three-fingered hand dominated by the first finger, which is longer and thicker than either of the bones of the forearm. Both specimens have interesting integumentary structures that could provide information about the origin of feathers. The larger individual also has stomach contents, and a pair of eggs in the abdomen.

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Figure 1
Figure 2: Sinosauropteryx prima Ji and Ji.
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Figure 4: Body of NIGP 127587.
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Figure 6


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This study was supported by NSFC. We thank L.-s. Chen and P. J. Currie (Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology) for helping to prepare the fossil materials and manuscript; M.-m. Zhang, X.-n. Mu, G. Sun, J. H. Ostram, A. Brush, L. Martin, P. Wellnhofer, N. J. Mateer, E. B. Koppelhus, D. B. Brinkman, D. A. Eberth, J. A. Ruben, L. Chiappe, S. Czerkas, R. O'Brien, D. Rimlinger, M. Vickaryous and D. Unwin for assistance and comments; and L. Mazzatenta and M. Skrepnick for help producing the photographs and drawings.

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Correspondence to Pei-ji Chen.

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Chen, Pj., Dong, Zm. & Zhen, Sn. An exceptionally well-preserved theropod dinosaur from the Yixian Formation of China. Nature 391, 147–152 (1998).

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