Named By: Xu Xing et al. - 2006.
Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Dinosauria, Ornithischia, Marginocephalia, Ceratopsia.
Species: Y. downsi (type).
Size: 1.2 meters long.
Known locations: China, Xinjiang Province - Shishugou Formation.
Time period: Oxfordian of the Jurassic.
Fossil representation: Single skeleton that is very well preserved.
very interesting find, Yinlong represents the
ceratopsian dinosaur. Despite its small size and bipedal stance,
the descendants of Yinlong would evolve into the
herbivores like Triceratops
that lived at the end
of the Cretaceous.
Study of the skull has revealed a small rostral bone, or more commonly called 'beak' that is indicative of the ceratopsian group. Squamosal ornamentation of the skull is also seen in the pachycephalosauria, further suggesting that they and the ceratopsian dinosaurs shared common direct ancestors. The skull also displays heterodontosaurid features further suggesting that the Marginocephalia are closely related to them.
While the teeth of Yinlong are undoubtedly those of a herbivore, gastroliths were also found inside the skeleton roughly where the stomach would have been. Not only would these mash swallowed plant matter to release further nutrients, this practice would also be carried down into successive generations and species.
Because Yinlong was discovered in Xinjiang Province, it was named 'Hidden Dragon' in reference to the multi award winning film 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' large portions of which were filmed in Xinjiang. The species name is in remembrance to Will Downs, who was a frequent participant to Chinese expeditions.