Chinese scientists have verified the finding of a new taxon of armored dinosaurs (Thyreophora) called “Yuxisaurus kopchicki” that lived in what is now Southwest China’s Yunnan Province during the Early Jurassic (200 million years ago). The experts also stated that they intend to conduct more studies into the dinosaur’s movement and family relationships.
Although dinosaur remains had previously been discovered in Yuxi, Yunnan Province, they were insufficient to identify a legitimate species. According to a news statement issued by the study team on Thursday, the discovery yielded enough fossil remains to designate it as Asia’s earliest known thyreophoran dinosaur for the first time.
The findings were published in the biology journal eLife on Wednesday by the vertebrate research team at Yunnan University’s School of Life Sciences.
“The newly discovered dinosaur will aid our research of the ecological environment following the extinction of some organisms in the Triassic period [250 million BC to 200 million BC],” said Xu Xing, one of the journal’s co-authors, to the Global Times on Thursday.
Yuxisaurus kopchicki, according to the journal, is the first legitimate thyreophoran dinosaur from the Early Jurassic in Asia, confirming the clade’s fast geographic distribution and diversity following its initial appearance in the Hettangian era, the geologic timescale’s first age, and lowest stage.
Yuxisaurus kopchicki was a 3-meter long herbivorous dinosaur. It mostly moved on four legs, although it could hold sensitive plant leaves with its forelimbs when necessary.
Fossils of the species may be discovered in late Jurassic rocks dating back 150 million years, although they are uncommon in early Jurassic strata dating back almost 200 million years. The skeleton recovered is relatively complete, with pieces of the skull, jaw, vertebrae, limb bones, and plates.
According to the current study, Yuxisaurus kopchicki lived around 200 million years ago, however, its exact origin is unknown. The finding of the dinosaur in Asia demonstrates how swiftly this group diversified and dispersed after its formation, attaining worldwide distribution in less than 10,000 years.
According to Xu, the team intends to cut slices from the fossil to research how the dinosaur matured and interacted with other members of its family, as well as construct a three-dimensional model using laser scans to examine how it moved.
The new fossils are closely connected to armored dinosaurs like Emausaurus in Germany, but they have physical traits that are notably different from armored dinosaurs like Ankylosaurus and Stegosaurus.