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A basal tyrannosauroid dinosaur from the Late Jurassic of China


The tyrannosauroid fossil record is mainly restricted to Cretaceous sediments of Laurasia, although some very fragmentary Jurassic specimens have been referred to this group1,2. Here we report a new basal tyrannosauroid, Guanlong wucaii gen. et sp. nov., from the lower Upper Jurassic of the Junggar Basin3,4, northwestern China. G. wucaii is the oldest known tyrannosauroid and shows several unexpectedly primitive pelvic features5,6. Nevertheless, the limbs of G. wucaii share several features with derived coelurosaurs7,8,9, and it possesses features shared by other coelurosaurian clades10. This unusual combination of character states provides an insight into the poorly known early radiation of the Coelurosauria. Notably, the presumed predatory Guanlong has a large, fragile and highly pneumatic cranial crest that is among the most elaborate known in any non-avian dinosaur and could be comparable to some classical exaggerated ornamental traits among vertebrates.

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Figure 1: Guanlong wucaii (IVPP V14532).
Figure 2: Guanlong wucaii (IVPP V14531).
Figure 3: A simplified cladogram representing an Adams consensus of 6,336 most parsimonious trees showing the phylogenetic position of Guanlong wucaii (see Supplementary Information for a detailed analysis).


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The authors thank D. Naish and T. Holtz for critical comments, H.-J. Wang for organizing the fieldwork, T. Yu for finding the specimen, R. S. Li for illustrations, L. S. Xiang and X.-Q. Ding for preparing the specimen, X.-Q. Ding for editing the illustrations, A. Prieto-Marquez for assistance with the histological figure, M. Carrano for suggestions, and members of the Sino-American expedition team for collecting the fossil. The work in 2002 was supported by the National Geographic Society, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Jurassic Foundation, the Hilmar Sallee bequest, George Washington University, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Study of the specimens was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the National Science Foundation Division of Earth Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the American Museum of Natural History.

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Correspondence to Xing Xu.

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Supplementary Notes

This file contains additional geological, morphological, and histological information, as well as a phylogenetic analysis. (DOC 1277 kb)

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Xu, X., Clark, J., Forster, C. et al. A basal tyrannosauroid dinosaur from the Late Jurassic of China. Nature 439, 715–718 (2006).

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