Sinosauropteryx (Chines lizard wing)
Sinosauropteryx (Chines lizard wing)
Named By : Ji, Q. & Ji, S. - 1996
Diet : Carnivore
Size : Estimated 1 meters long
Type of Dinosaur : Small Theropod
Type Species : S. prima (type)
Found in : China, Liaoning Province - Yixian Formation
When it Lived : Early Cretaceous, 122-120 million years ago
Sinosauropteryx (meaning “Chinese reptilian wing”, simplified Chinese: Zhong Hua Long Niao ; traditional Chinese: Zhong Hua Long Niao ; pinyin: Zhonghua long niao; lit. “Chinese dragon bird’) can be described as a Compsognathid Dinosaur. The dinosaur was discovered in 1996 and was the first taxon of dinosaurs beyond Avialae (birds as well as their closest relatives) that was found to have an evidence of feathers. It was covered by an extremely simple coat of feathers that resembled filaments. The structures that suggest colour are also preserved in its feathers. This creates Sinosauropteryx the first dinosaur not from the avian kingdom in which colouration has been identified. The colouration is characterized by an orange-reddish light banded tail. There has been some debate over an alternative idea to the appearance of the filament that it the remains of collagen fibres but it hasn’t been widely accepted.
Sam / Olai Ose / Skjaervoy from Zhangjiagang, China, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Sinosauropteryx was a tiny theropod that had an unusually long tail and arms that were short. The longest-known specimen measures upwards of 1.07 meters (3.51 feet) in length. It weighed the estimated mass of 0.55 kg (1.21 pounds) It was a close kin of the genus Compsognathus, which is similar to but older Compsognathus both of which belong to the family of Compsognathidae. One species of Sinosauropteryx has been identified: S. Prima, which translates to “first” in reference to its position as the first dinosaur with feathers that was discovered. The three specimens are identified. The third specimen that was previously classified as belonging to this genus is or is a different, not named species or a distinct species that is related to a species.
Sinosauropteryx inhabited the area that is now known as northeastern China in the middle of the Cretaceous period. It was among the earliest dinosaurs to be discovered in the Yixian Formation in Liaoning Province and was also a part of the Jehol Biota. The fossils that have been preserved well reveal a variety of aspects of its biology, like the diet it ate and its reproduction.
The first fossil of the dinosaur, later known as Sinosauropteryx prima was discovered in the summer of the year 1996 in the hands of Li Yumin. Yumin was a farmer , and a part-time hunter of fossils who regularly hunted in Liaoning Province to acquire fossils to offer to people and museums. Yumin acknowledged the special nature of the specimen that was divided into two pieces, and then sold the slabs to two distinct museums in China which included the National Geological Museum in Beijing and the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology. Ji Qiang, the director of the Beijing museum, Ji Qiang, recognized the significance of this find as did a visiting Canadian Palaeontologist Phil Currie and artist Michael Skrepnick who were made aware of the fossil when they were exploring the Beijing museum’s collections following an excursion through the fossils of the region during the first week of October 1996. Currie knew the importance of the fossil as soon as he saw it. According to The New York Times quoted Currie “When I saw this slab of siltstone mixed with volcanic ash in which the creature is embedded, I was bowled over.” When first described by the authors, they called the creature Sinosauropteryx as a reference to “Chinese reptile wing..
Chinese authorities initially prohibited photos of the specimen from being published. But, Currie brought a photograph at the 1996 conference at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, causing crowds of palaeontologists who gathered to discuss the latest discovery. The news was reported to have caused the palaeontologist John Ostrom, who in the 1970s was the first to propose the idea that dinosaurs evolved from birds, “in a state of shock.” Ostrom then joined an internationally renowned group of scientists who met in Beijing to look at fossils. Other team members comprised feather specialist Alan Brush, fossil bird expert Larry Martin, and Peter Wellnhofer who is authority on birds of the first era Archaeopteryx.
The three specimens are designated to Sinosauropteryx prima The Holotype GMV 2123 (and its counter slab, which is the opposite facethat is NIGP 127586), NIGP 127587, and D 2141. A third specimen IVPP V14202, has been assigned to the Genus, but it was not the only type according to Zhang along with colleagues. The assignment of a more extensive specimen S. primus, GMV 2124, was later discovered to be incorrect. All fossils were discovered within the Jianshangou or Dawangzhangzi Beds of the Yixian Formation within the Beipiao and Lingyuan regions of Liaoning, China. The fossil beds have been found to be 124.6-122 million years back, which was during the middle Aptian phase that was part of the Early Cretaceous.