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XIAOTINGIA

a carnivorous dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur from the Late Jurassic of China.
xiaotingia.png
Pronunciation: shyow-TIN-gee-uh
Meaning: for Zheng Xiaoting
Author/s: Xing Xu (2011)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Liaoning, China
Chart Position: 612

Xiaotingia zhengi

After Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" in 1859 and the discovery of Archaeopteryx — a fossil caught in the act of evolution a couple of years later to support his then-ludicrous theory — the "first bird" slot seemed to be sewn up. But 150 years later Xiaotingia landed on news desks virtually begging for cheesey "Archaeopteryx knocked off its perch" headlines, or so confused reporters thought, and the general public hit stages one, two and four of the five stages of grief. However, Xioaotingia is innocent.

Apparently, Xing Xu used an old matrix that lacked two sets of critical updates during his analysis of small dinosaurs, "dino-birds" and dinosaurs that may or may not be close to birds, and managed to redefine the concepts of Avialae (birds) and Deinonychosauria (the sickle-clawed carnivorous dinosaurs affectionately known as "raptors") to such an extent that the newly discovered Xiaotingia, Archaeopteryx and Anchiornis were all pounded into the same clade—Archaeopterygidae. Anchored by Archaeopteryx and historically placed within birds, Xu then proceeded to plonk his archaeopterygids amongst the deinonychosaurs, and this was when the pros became vexed too.

Retaliation was swift as paleontologists shot this theory down in flames, and even Xu's revised version of his initial analysis ("tentative" as it was) showed that he got it horribly wrong first time 'round. As predicted; Archaeopteryx is a basal bird again, Anchiornis is back to being a troodontid, and Xiaotingia is the most primitive known dromaeosaurid, at least according to the latest round of research by Phil Senter et al.
(for Zheng Xiaoting) Etymology
The generic name (Xiaotingia) honors Zheng Xiaoting, founder of the Shandgong Tianyu Museum of Nature, and funnily enough so does the species epithet (zhengi).
Discovery
The remains of Xiaotingia were discovered in the Tiaojishan Formation at Jianchang, western Liaoning, China. The holotype (STM 27-2) is an almost complete skeleton including a skull. Its teeth are more bulbous than those of its closest relatives, which suggests it may have eaten plants or small shellfish, or both.
Estimations
Timeline:
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Late Jurassic
Stage: Oxfordian
Age range: 161-156 mya
Stats:
Est. max. length: 0.5 meters
Est. max. hip height: 0.2 meters
Est. max. weight: 1.5 Kg
Diet: Carnivore
References
• Xing Xu, Hailu You, Kai Du & Fenglu Han (2011) "An Archaeopteryx-like theropod from China and the origin of Avialae". Nature. 475 (7357): 465–470.
• Lee, M.S.Y. and Worthy, T.H. (2011) "Likelihood reinstates Archaeopteryx as a primitive bird".
Biol. Lett. 2012 8 299-303; DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2011.0884. Published online 26th October, 2011.
• Senter P, Kirkland J.I, DeBlieux D.D, Madsen S, and Toth N. (2012) "New Dromaeosaurids (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Lower Cretaceous of Utah, and the Evolution of the Dromaeosaurid Tail". PLoS ONE, 7(5) e36790.
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "XIAOTINGIA :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 27th May 2017.
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