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A gigantic feathered dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of China

Abstract

Numerous feathered dinosaur specimens have recently been recovered from the Middle–Upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous deposits of northeastern China, but most of them represent small animals1. Here we report the discovery of a gigantic new basal tyrannosauroid, Yutyrannus huali gen. et sp. nov., based on three nearly complete skeletons representing two distinct ontogenetic stages from the Lower Cretaceous Yixian Formation of Liaoning Province, China. Y. huali shares some features, particularly of the cranium, with derived tyrannosauroids2,3, but is similar to other basal tyrannosauroids4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12 in possessing a three-fingered manus and a typical theropod pes. Morphometric analysis suggests that Y. huali differed from tyrannosaurids in its growth strategy13,14. Most significantly, Y. huali bears long filamentous feathers, thus providing direct evidence for the presence of extensively feathered gigantic dinosaurs and offering new insights into early feather evolution.

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Figure 1: Yutyrannus huali (ZCDM V5000 and ZCDM V5001).
Figure 2: Selected elements of Y. huali (ZCDM V5000, ZCDM V5001 and ELDM V1001).
Figure 3: A simplified cladogram showing the systematic position of Y. huali among the Tyrannosauroidea.

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Acknowledgements

We thank L. Zhang for discussions, R. Li, H. Zang and X. Ding for illustrations, and H. Wang, L. Xiang and R. Cao for preparing the specimens. We thank the Zhucheng Municipal Government and Erlianhaote Municipal Government for support. This study was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China and Special Funds For Major State Basic Research Projects of China.

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X.X. designed the project. X.X., K.W., K.Z., Q.M., L.X., C.S., D.H., S.C. and S.W. performed the research. X.X., C.S. and Q.M. wrote the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Xing Xu.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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This file contains Supplementary Text 1-6 (see page 1 for details), Supplementary Figures 1-6, Supplementary Tables 1-2 and additional references. (PDF 938 kb)

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Xu, X., Wang, K., Zhang, K. et al. A gigantic feathered dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of China. Nature 484, 92–95 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature10906

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