Letter | Published:

A gigantic feathered dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of China

Nature volume 484, pages 9295 (05 April 2012) | Download Citation

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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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.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Key Laboratory of Evolutionary Systematics of Vertebrates, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 142 Xiwai Street, Beijing 100044, China

    • Xing Xu
    • , Qingyu Ma
    • , Corwin Sullivan
    •  & Shuo Wang
  2. Liaoning Paleontological Museum, Shenyang Normal University, 253 North Huanghe Street, Shenyang 110034, China

    • Xing Xu
    •  & Dongyu Hu
  3. Zhucheng Dinosaur Museum, Zhucheng, Shandong, 262200, China

    • Kebai Wang
    •  & Shuqing Cheng
  4. School of the Earth Sciences and Resources, China University of Geosciences, 28 Xueyuan Road, Beijing 100083, China

    • Ke Zhang
  5. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, 11145 Saskatchewan Drive, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2E9, Canada

    • Lida Xing
  6. Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 19 Yuquan Road, Beijing 100049, China

    • Shuo Wang

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Contributions

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.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Xing Xu.

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    Supplementary Information

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

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nature10906

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