Sauropodomorph Dinosaur Discovered in China

A new genus and species of dinosaur has been identified in China!

In 2018, Paleontologists in China found a fragmented skeleton of a small, early sauropodomorph. The skeleton was found near the Zhanmatian Village of Yunnan Province’s Fengjiahe Formation, southeast of Tibet. This region is known to be a hotspot for early sauropod fossils. Upon analysis, these remains were discovered to be a completely unknown genus. One which paleontologists have dubbed: Irisosaurus yiminensis, meaning “Iridescent Lizard of Yimen County”, after the iridescent appearance of the clouds in the area.

An artistic reconstruction of a pair of Irisosaurus in their natural habitat. Artist Credit: Ang Li

Irisosaurus lived during the earliest part of the Jurassic period, the Hettangian, making it roughly 200 million years old. Irisosaurus would have inhabited lush, steamy tree-fern forests as well as dense fern praires. This animal coexisted with plateosaurid sauropodomorph dinosaurs as well as massospondylid dinosaurs, like the well known Lufengosaurus. Also present in this environment were crested carnivorous theropods such as Sinosaurus.

This discovery sheds some valuable light on the forms that sauropodomorph dinosaurs took in the early days of dinosaur dominance over the world.

(a) outline, (b) tooth, (c) left maxilla, (d) middle cervical, (e) posterior cervical, (f) anterior dorsal, (g) middle dorsal neural spine, (h) right scapula, (i) right humerus, (j) right ulna, (k) right manus. Scale bars – 1 m in (a), 1 cm in (b), 5 cm in (c-g), 10 cm in (h-k). Image credit: Peyre de Fabrègues et al


  • C. Peyre de Fabrègues et al. 2020. A new species of early-diverging Sauropodiformes from the Lower Jurassic Fengjiahe Formation of Yunnan Province, China. Sci Rep 10, 10961; doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-67754-4

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