Thursday, April 05, 2012

Yutyrannus, A Giant Feathered Tyrannosauroid From China

A gigantic feathered dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of China. X. Xu, et al. Nature 484: 92–95.

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 animals. 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 tyrannosauroids, but is similar to other basal tyrannosauroids in possessing a three-fingered manus and a typical theropod pes. Morphometric analysis suggests that Y. huali differed from tyrannosaurids in its growth strategy.

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.