Fossil range: 160 million years ago
Xu et al., 2006
Guanlong (Simplified Chinese: 冠龙五彩; Hanyu Pinyin: guānlóng; means "crown dragon") was a genus of proceratosaurid tyrannosauroid dinosaur, one of the earliest known examples of the lineage. 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, 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 (as pictured in this article). The crests of both specimens are thin, delicate structures that likely served as display organs.
In popular culture
- The National Geographic Channel documentary Dino Death Trap was the first documentary to feature Guanlong, in which is described the discovery and interpretation of the so-called 'pits of death' in China.
- A number of Guanlong also appeared in the 2009 film Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.
- Guanlong also appears in National Geographic's Bizarre Dinosaurs.