Scientists originally found the remains of an armored dinosaur, which they named Yuxisaurus kopchicki, in 2017 in Yuxi District of Yunnan Province, an area that has been a hotspot for dinosaur discoveries. The research on the samples began in 2019, according to study author Chondong Pei, a professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Study author Paul Barrett, a meritorious researcher at the Natural History Museum in London, said the ancient creature belonged to the therophoran group, like its distant cousin Stegosaurus.
It likely lived 192 million to 174 million years ago, and is the first thyrophoran from that time period to be identified in the area, according to the study.
“This is the first early armored dinosaur to be named from the entire Asian continent and helps show how the group spread across the world soon after its emergence a few million years ago,” Barrett said by email.
Yuxisaurus kopchicki likely stretched from 6.6 to 9.8 feet (2 to 3 meters) in length and ate low-growing plants such as ferns and sica.
A group of various fossils
Barrett said a series of bony plates covered the animal, covering its neck, back and limbs, with large spines scattered over the shield.
He explained that spikes serve multiple purposes: to distract the jaws and teeth of most predators, while also potentially serving as a tool to show off other members of their species during territorial or partner conflicts.
Bee said that two modern animals that behave similarly are porcupines and hedgehogs.
More than 120 bone deposits have been recovered from the drilling site, he said, giving researchers enough material to confirm a new species.
The remains included multiple fragments of a single skeleton, including parts of armor plates, limbs, jaws, and a skull. Bee said the dinosaur’s heavy build and distinctive armor hinted that the researchers had a new species on their hands.
Additionally, the results show how diverse the dinosaur group was and how quickly they spread across the northern hemisphere, he said.
Barrett said the closest relatives of armored dinosaurs were the herbivores Scelidosaurus and Emausaurus — both of which originated in Europe during the Jurassic period.
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