An unknown species of thyreophores lived in China during the Jurassic

These are the first fossil remains of this group of quadrupedal herbivores, which lived from the early Jurassic to the late Cretaceous, to be discovered in Asia.

Their appearance was distinctive, since their backs formed a kind of armored shield with bony plates, spikes or spurs.

This fossilized skeleton includes part of a skull, vertebrae, pieces of limbs and many fragments of his shield. It is the best preserved and oldest example of an armored dinosaur in Asiaexplains in a press release the paleontologist Paul Barrett, of the Natural History Museum of London.

Paleontologists have found several fossilized bones, but also a large number of fragments of armor.

Photo: Xi Yao

The origin of dinosaurs armored

During the Jurassic and Cretaceous, a large number of species of herbivorous dinosaurs evolved to cover themselves with defensive bony plates.

These dinosaurs fall into two very recognizable categories:

  • Stegosaurus, with their dorsal plates and pointed tails, were huge beasts.
  • Ankylosaurs were less bulky. They were usually covered with flat bony shields and looked more like mobile coffee tables.

The new species, named Yuxisaurus kopchicki, was of medium height. It was much more robust and stockier than other species, such as stegosaurs and ankylosaurs.

million years ago”,”text”:”My Chinese colleagues discovered this new dinosaur in southwestern China, in Early Jurassic rocks dating from 192 to 174 million years ago”}}”>My Chinese colleagues discovered this new dinosaur in southwestern China, in Early Jurassic rocks dating from 192 to 174 million years agosays Professor Barrett.

Its armor tells us that it is a member of the same group of dinosaurs, but its age tells us that it lived long before these well-known species. […]and is therefore close to their common ancestor. »

A quote from Paul Barrett

In fact, this reality suggests that their common ancestors exhibited a greater variety of body shapes than paleontologists until now imagined.

The presence of Yuxisaurus kopchicki in the territory that today corresponds to China also shows that the armored dinosaurs spread over the entire planet at the beginning of their evolution.

Until today, thyreophoric dinosaur fossils have mostly been found in rocks dating from the Late Jurassic and Cretaceous (163 to 66 million years ago) in North America and Europe.

This revealed an incredible diversity of species, but it has long been known that their origins must go back much further.notes the professor.

More and more armored dinosaur fossils are being unearthed in the Southern Hemisphere.

million years ago in Venezuela and South Africa. They had no armor, but they could be the first representatives of the group, before its appearance”,”text”:”Two of them belong to animals that lived about 200 million years ago in Venezuela and in South Africa. They had no armor, but they could be the first representatives of the group, before its appearance”}}”>Two of them belong to animals that lived about 200 million years ago in Venezuela and South Africa. They had no armor, but they could be the first representatives of the group, before its appearanceconcludes Professor Barrett.

The description of the new dinosaur is the subject of an article published in the journal eLifeHave (New window)Have (in French).

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