Huayangosaurus

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Huayangosaurus
Temporal range: Middle Jurassic 165 mya
Huayangosaurus tianfuensis in Hong Kong.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Superorder: Dinosauria
Order: Ornithischia
Suborder: Thyreophora
Infraorder: Stegosauria
Family: Huayangosauridae
Genus: Huayangosaurus
Huyangosaurus taibaii skeleton from the Beijing Museum of Natural History.
Skull of Huayangosaurus taibaii, on display at the Paleozoological Museum of China.

Huayangosaurus is a genus of stegosaurian dinosaur from the Middle Jurassic of China. The name derives from "Huayang", an alternate name for Sichuan province.

It lived about 165 million years ago, some 20 million years before its famous relative, Stegosaurus appeared in North America. At only 4.5 metres long, it was also much smaller than its famous cousin. Found in the Lower Shaximiao Formation, Huayangosaurus shared the local landscape with the sauropods Shunosaurus, Datousaurus, Omeisaurus and Protognathosaurus, the ornithopod Xiaosaurus and the carnivorous Gasosaurus.

Description[change | change source]

Like other stegosaurians, Huayangosaurus was a quadrupedal herbivore with a small skull and a spiked tail. Like its more famous relative, Stegosaurus, Huayangosaurus bore the distinctive double row of plates that characterize all the stegosaurians. These plates rose vertically along its arched back. In Huayangosaurus, the plates were more spike-like than in Stegosaurus. Like Stegosaurus, however, it bore two pairs of long spikes extending horizontally near the end of its tail.

Huayangosaurus was one of the smallest known stegosaurians, at just 4.5 meters in length.

Discovery and species[change | change source]

Huayangosaurus remains from twelve individual animals were recovered from the Dashanpu Quarry near Zigong in Sichuan. The type species is H. taibaii.[1]

Classification[change | change source]

As it is the most basal stegosaurian, it is placed in within its own family Huayangosauridae. It is also morphologically distinct from later (stegosaurid) forms. Its skull was broader and had premaxillary teeth in the front of its mouth. All later stegosaurians lost these teeth.[2]

Palaeobiology[change | change source]

Like many other stegosaurians, it had plates all down its back and spikes on its tail. Two large spikes were above its hips, and may have been used for deterring an attack from above (considering as it was a fairly short in height compared to later stegosaurians). Its plates were smaller than those of Stegosaurus, with much less surface area. Thus they would have been much less effective heat regulators, one of the postulated functions of plates.

Popular culture[change | change source]

Mounted skeletons of Huayangosaurus are on display at the Zigong Dinosaur Museum in Zigong and the Municipal Museum of Chongqing in Sichuan Province in China.

References[change | change source]

  1. Dong Z. Tang Z. and Zhou S.W. 1982. ["Note on the new Mid-Jurassic stegosaur from Sichuan Basin, China"] (in Chinese). Vertebrata PalAsiatica 20 (1) :83-87
  2. Sereno P. & Dong Zhiming 1992. The skull of the basal stegosaur Huayangosaurus taibaii and a cladistic diagnosis of Stegosauria. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 51: 318-343
  • Fastovsky D.E. and Weishampel D.B. (2005). "Stegosauria: hot plates". In Fastovsky D.E. and Weishampel D.B.. The evolution and extinction of the dinosaurs. 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press. pp. 107–130. ISBN 0-521-81172-4
      .
  • Dong Zhiming (1988). Dinosaurs from China. China Ocean Press, Beijing & British Museum (Natural History). ISBN 0-565-01073-5
      .
  • Dong Zhiming (1992). Dinosaurian faunas of China. China Ocean Press, Beijing. ISBN 3-540-52084-8
      .

Other websites[change | change source]