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a herbivorous therizinosaurian theropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of China.
Pronunciation: bay-pyow-SOR-us
Meaning: Beipiao lizard
Author/s: Xu, Tang and Wang (1999)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Liaoning, China
Chart Position: 370

Beipiaosaurus inexpectus

Discovered and discarded by a Beipiao farmer who thought it held no commercial value, Beipiaosaurus inexpectus — named by Xu, Tang and Wang in 1999 — is the lizard from Beipiao with unexpected features.
It wouldn't raise an eyebrow these days, but late 20th-century palaeontologists were surprised to discover skin impressions that suggested a covering of down-like feathers, which made Beipiaosaurus the first known fuzzy-saur. But there was also evidence of long, simple feather quills, though they were all the wrong shape and type for flight and were most probably for posing and gesticulating.

Beipiaosaurus is a therizinosaur and Therizinosauria is the clade that just keeps ticking the weird and wonderful boxes. As well as having primitive feathers, insanely long scythe-like claws and pot bellies amongst other quirks, they belong within Theropoda — the bipedal critters renowned for their love of meat — yet they were vegetarian, or at least trying to be, which was also unexpected.

Compared to other therizinosaurs Beipiaosaurus has a larger skull (its lower jaw is as long as its thigh), shorter, more bulbous tooth crowns suggesting it favoured a particular type of plant-based fodder, and only three functional toes on each foot rather than the four toes found on the feet of more advanced therizinosaurs. It was the largest theropod dinosaur with confirmed evidence of a feathery coating until the discovery of Yutyrannus, which was almost four times longer, in 2012.
(Beipiao Lizard with unexpected features)Etymology
Beipiaosaurus is a combination of "Beipiao" (the location of its discovery) and the Greek "sauros" (lizard). The species epithet, inexpectus, refers to its unexpected features.
The remains of Beipiaosaurus were found at Sihetun Village near Beipiao in the Jianshangou beds of the Yixian Formation, Liaoning Province, northeastern China, by Li Yinxian in 1996.
The Holotype (IVPP V11559) includes vertebrae, hip bones, parts of all four limbs including hands and feet, a pygostyle, a partial wishbone and shoulder blade, and a lower jaw — that was as long as its thigh — complete with a beak and cheek teeth.
A second specimen (STM 31-1), described by Xu et al. in 2009, includes much of what was missing from the holotype, including a complete but partially crushed skull, and a significant covering of unique, elongated feathers.
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Early Cretaceous
Stage: Aptian
Age range: 125-120 mya
Est. max. length: 2.5 meters
Est. max. hip height: 0.8 meters
Est. max. weight: 80 Kg
Diet: Omnivore
• Xu X, Tang Z-L and Wang X-L (1999) "A therizinosauroid dinosaur with integumentary structures from China". Nature 399, 350-354 (27 May 1999) | doi:10.1038/20670
• Xu X, Cheng Y, Wang X-L and Chang C-S (2003) "Pygostyle-like Structure from Beipiaosaurus (Theropoda, Therizinosauroidea) from the Lower Cretaceous Yixian Formation of Liaoning, China". Acta Geologica Sinica (English Edition), Volume 77, Issue 3, pages 294–298
• u X and You Z (2009) "A new feather type in a nonavian theropod and the early evolution of feathers". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106 (3): 832–834. doi:10.1073/pnas.0810055106
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "BEIPIAOSAURUS :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 24th Feb 2018.