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An unusual oviraptorosaurian dinosaur from China


Oviraptorosaurians are an unusual group of theropod dinosaurs, with highly specialized skulls1,2,3,4,5,6. Here we report a new oviraptorosaurian, Incisivosaurus gauthieri, gen. et sp. nov., from the lowest part of the Lower Cretaceous Yixian Formation of China. This oviraptorosaurian displays a number of characters closer to more typical theropods, such as a low skull and toothed jaws, thus greatly reducing the morphological gap between oviraptorosaurs and other theropods4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11. Incisivosaurus has a pair of premaxillary teeth resembling rodent incisors and small, lanceolate cheek teeth with large wear facets. These dental features were previously unknown among theropods and suggest a herbivorous diet. The new discovery provides a case of convergent evolution and demonstrates that non-avian theropods were much more diverse ecologically than previously suspected.

  • Theropoda Marsh, 1881

  • Maniraptora Gauthier, 1986

  • Oviraptorosauria Barsbold, 1976

  • Incisivosaurus gauthieri gen. et sp. nov.

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Figure 1: Holotype skull of the oviraptorosaurian Incisivosaurus gauthieri (IVPP V13326).
Figure 2: A simplified cladogram representing a strict consensus of 210 trees showing the phylogenetic position of Incisivosaurus gauthieri.


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We thank P. Currie, H.-D. Sues, J. Clark, X.-C. Wu, P. Makovicky and P. M. Barrett for reading the manuscript and making valuable comments, M. Norell, C.-K. Li, J.-L. Li, X.-J. Ni and J. Liu for discussions, Z.-H. Zhou for help during the course of the work, H.-J. Wang and Z. Wang for preparing the specimens and R.-S. Li for drawings. We also thank members of the Liaoxi expedition team of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology. This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the National Geographic Society, Special Funds for Major State Basic Research Projects of China and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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Correspondence to Xing Xu.

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Xu, X., Cheng, YN., Wang, XL. et al. An unusual oviraptorosaurian dinosaur from China. Nature 419, 291–293 (2002).

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