Temporal range: Early Cretaceous, uncertain
|Life restoration of W. homheni|
Wuerhosaurus is a genus of stegosaurid dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous Period of China. As such, it was one of the last genera of stegosaurians known to have existed, since most others lived in the late Jurassic.
Discovery and species
A smaller species from the Ejinhoro Formation in the Ordos Basin in Inner Mongolia, W. ordosensis, was formalized by the same researcher in 1993. It is based on specimen IVPP V6877, a fragmentary skeleton lacking the skull. It was found in 1988.
Susannah Maidment and colleagues proposed in 2008 that Wuerhosaurus should be considered a junior synonym of Stegosaurus, with type species W. homheni as Stegosaurus homheni and second species W. ordosensis regarded as dubious. This opinion has been contested, however.
Wuerhosaurus homheni was probably a broad bodied animal. Gregory S. Paul in 2010 estimated the length at 7 metres (23 ft) and the weight at four tonnes. Only a few scattered bones have been found, making a full restoration difficult. Its dorsal plates were at first thought to have been much rounder or flatter than other stegosaurids, but Maidment established this was an illusion caused by breakage: their actual form is unknown. W. homheni had a pelvis of which the front of the ilia strongly flared outwards indicating a very broad belly. The neural spines on the tail base were exceptionally tall.
W. ordosensis was estimated by Paul to have been 5 metres (16.5 feet) long and weigh 1.2 tonnes. It too has a broad pelvis but the neural spines are shorter. The neck seems to have been relatively long.
Wuerhosaurus was lower to the ground than most other stegosaurids; scientists believe that this was an adaptation to let it feed on low-growing vegetation. Wuerhosaurus, like other stegosaurids, perhaps had a thagomizer on the end of its tail, like that of Stegosaurus which featured four bony spikes that would most likely have been used for self-defense. A single spike was found but was seen by Dong as being positioned on the shoulder.
- Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 156. ISBN 1-84028-152-9.
- Dong Z., 1973, [Dinosaurs from Wuerho]. Reports of Paleontological Expedition to Sinkiang (II): Pterosaurian Fauna from Wuerho, Sinkiang. Memoirs of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Academia Sinica 11: 45-52
- Dong Z., 1990, "Stegosaurs of Asia", In: K. Carpenter & P. J. Currie (Eds.), Dinosaur Systematics (pp. 255–268). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
- "Wuerhosaurus." In: Dodson, Peter & Britt, Brooks & Carpenter, Kenneth & Forster, Catherine A. & Gillette, David D. & Norell, Mark A. & Olshevsky, George & Parrish, J. Michael & Weishampel, David B. The Age of Dinosaurs. Publications International, LTD. p. 102. ISBN 0-7853-0443-6.
- Dong Z., 1994, "A new species of stegosaur (Dinosauria) from the Ordos Basin, Inner Mongolia, People's Republic of China", Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 30(10-11): 2174-2176
- Maidment, Susannah C.R.; Norman, David B.; Barrett, Paul M.; Upchurch, Paul (2008). "Systematics and phylogeny of Stegosauria (Dinosauria: Ornithischia)". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 6 (4): 367–407. doi:10.1017/S1477201908002459.
- K. Carpenter, 2010, "Species concept in North American stegosaurs", Swiss Journal of Geosciences 103(2): 155-162
- Paul, G.S., 2010, The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs, Princeton University Press p. 224
- Wuerhosaurus at Thescelosaurus!