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Temporal range: Late Jurassic, 160Ma
Guanlong fossil.jpg
One of the two known specimens
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Dinosauria
Suborder: Theropoda
Superfamily: Tyrannosauroidea
Family: Proceratosauridae
Genus: Guanlong
Xu et al., 2006
Species: † G. wucaii
Binomial name
Guanlong wucaii
Xu et al., 2006

Guanlong ( meaning "crowned dragon") was a genus of proceratosaurid tyrannosauroid dinosaur, one of the earliest known examples of the lineage.

Description and discovery[edit]

Guanlong compared to a human in size

About 3 m (9.8 ft),[1][2] its fossils were found in the Shishugou Formation dating to about 160 million years ago, in the Oxfordian stage of the Late Jurassic period,[1] 92 million years before its well-known relative Tyrannosaurus. This bipedal saurischian theropod shared many traits with its descendants, and also had some unusual ones, like a large crest on its head. Unlike later tyrannosaurs, Guanlong had three long fingers on its hands. Aside from its distinctive crest, it would have resembled its close relative Dilong, and like Dilong may have had a coat of primitive feathers.

Guanlong was discovered in the Dzungaria area of China by a joint expedition by scientists from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology and George Washington University, and named by Xu Xing and others in 2006.[citation needed] Guanlong comes from the Chinese words for "crown" and "dragon",[1] referring to the crest.[citation needed] The specific epithet (五彩冠龙), wucaii (Hanyu Pinyin: wŭcái), means "five colours"[1] and refers to the colours of rock of the Wucaiwan, the multi-hued badlands where the creature was found.


Fossil specimen

At present, Guanlong is known from two specimens.[1] The holotype (IVPP V14531)[citation needed] is a reasonably complete, partially articulated adult skeleton. Another, immature specimen is known from fully articulated and nearly complete remains. The crest on the skull of the immature specimen is notably smaller and restricted to the forward portion of the snout, while the adult has a larger and more extensive crest. The crests of both specimens are thin, delicate structures that likely served as display organs, possibly for events like mating.[1]


Head restoration
Body restoration

In a recent study, Guanlong was found to be in a clade with both Proceratosaurus and Kileskus. Together they formed the family Proceratosauridae with a clade containing Sinotyrannus, Juratyrant and Stokesosaurus.[3]

Below is a cladogram of Tyrannosauroidea published by Loewen et al. in 2013.[3]


Proceratosaurus bradleyi

Kileskus aristotocus

Guanlong wucaii

Sinotyrannus kazuoensis

Juratyrant langhami

Stokesosaurus clevelandi

Dilong paradoxus

Eotyrannus lengi

Bagaraatan ostromi

Raptorex kriegsteini

Dryptosaurus aquilunguis

Alectrosaurus olseni

Xiongguanlong baimoensis

Appalachiosaurus montgomeriensis

Alioramus altai

Alioramus remotus


In popular culture[edit]

A number of Guanlong were featured in the 2009 film Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. Character designer Peter de Sève stated in a 2009 interview that the dinosaur was chosen as "a twist on a Velociraptor", which is often featured in dinosaur films.[4]

Guanlong was featured in the National Geographic documentary Dino Death Trap, where the holotype was discussed, as well as its role in the ecosystem and its status as a tyrannosauroid.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Csotonyi, J.T.; White, S. (2014). Paleoart of Julius Csotonyi: Dinosaurs, Sabre-Tooths and Beyond. Titan Books. p. 74. ISBN 978-1-7811-6912-4. 
  2. ^ Holtz, Thomas R. Jr. (2008) Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages Supplementary Information
  3. ^ a b Loewen, M.A.; Irmis, R.B.; Sertich, J.J.W.; Currie, P. J.; Sampson, S. D. (2013). Evans, David C, ed. "Tyrant Dinosaur Evolution Tracks the Rise and Fall of Late Cretaceous Oceans". PLoS ONE 8 (11): e79420. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079420.  edit
  4. ^ Wloszczyna, S. (2009). "'Ice Age' warms up to dinosaurs in third installment." USA Today, 30-JUN-2009.
  • Xu X., Clark, J.M., Forster, C. A., Norell, M.A., Erickson, G.M., Eberth, D.A., Jia, C., and Zhao, Q. (2006). "A basal tyrannosauroid dinosaur from the Late Jurassic of China". Nature 439 (7077): 715–718. doi:10.1038/nature04511. PMID 16467836. 

External links[edit]