Temporal range: Late Jurassic, 160Ma
|One of the two known specimens|
Xu et al., 2006
|Species:||† G. wucaii|
Xu et al., 2006
Description and discovery
About 3.0 metres (9.8 ft) long, its fossils were found in the Shishugou Formation dating to about 160 million years ago, in the Oxfordian stage of the Late Jurassic period, 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 scientists from George Washington University, and named by Xu Xing in 2006. Guanlong comes from the Chinese words for "crown" and "dragon", referring to the crest. The specific epithet (五彩冠龙), wucaii (Hanyu Pinyin: wŭcái), means "five colours" and refers to the colours of rock of the Wucaiwan, the multi-hued badlands where the creature was found.
At present, Guanlong is known from two specimens. The holotype (IVPP V14531) 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.
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.
Below is a cladogram of Tyrannosauroidea published by Loewen et al. in 2013.
In popular culture
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.
Guanlong was also featured in the 2011 Discovery channel documentary Dinosaur Revolution, where a pair (named "Fatty" and "Skinny") chase a Castorocauda, but fail, and also chase a Volaticotherium, but fail and get surrounded by crocodiles on a tiny island.
- Holtz, Thomas R. Jr. (2008) Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages Supplementary Information
- Loewen, M. A.; Irmis, R. B.; Sertich, J. J. W.; Currie, P. J.; Sampson, S. D. (2013). "Tyrant Dinosaur Evolution Tracks the Rise and Fall of Late Cretaceous Oceans". In Evans, David C. PLoS ONE 8 (11): e79420. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079420.
- 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.