Beipiaosaurus is a genus of therizinosauroid theropod dinosaurs that lived in Asia during the Early Cretaceous in the Yixian Formation. The first remains were found in 1996 and formally described in 1999. Before the discovery of Yutyrannus, they were among the largest dinosaurs known from direct evidence to be feathered. Beipiaosaurus is known from three reported specimens preserving numerous impressions of feather structures that allowed to determine the feathering color which turned out to be brownish.
Quick facts about Beipiaosaurus:
- Existed from Hauterivian Age to Aptian Age
- Lived in a terrestrial habitat
- Was a herbivore
- Reproduced by laying eggs
- 2 different specimens have been found by paleontologists
Beipiaosaurus was a carnivore. It lived in the Cretaceous period and inhabited Asia. Its fossils have been found in places such as Hebei (China) and Liaoning (China).
Like other therizinosaurs, Beipiaosaurus had a long neck and small head for reaching into trees easier, giving itself an almost sauropod look. It also had very long arms and wicked claws on each of its fingers for stripping trees of their bark and leaves, and also likely were used for defense against predators. Its body was rather stout, likely ending in a sort of pot-belly, but was much leaner than that of other larger, more evolved therizinosaurs. Beipiaosaurus jaws started out with a beak in the front and then had peg-like cheek teeth more towards the back, for stripping vegetation more efficiently. However, the teeth weren’t very good for sauropod look. It also had very long arms and wicked claws on each of its fingers for stripping trees of their bark and leaves, and also likely were used for defense against predators. Its body was rather stout, likely ending in a sort of pot-belly, but was much leaner than that of other larger, more evolved therizinosaurs.
It grew to be about 7.5 feet (2.6 meters) long, 4 feet (1.3 meters) long, and 100 pounds (45 kilograms) in weight, making it quite small in terms of therizinosaur and dinosaur standards. Nevertheless, its discovery was an important find in the fossil record for piecing together therizinosaur evolution. As far as we know, Beipiaosaurus had the longest feathers of any known dinosaur, and during the mating season were likely used to attract mates like modern birds do. Being a more primitive therizinosaur also sets it apart from other species related to it, such as features like a slender body and shorter neck. Its legs were also relatively longer than in relatives such as Therizinosaurus, suggesting it was a faster runner. Baiepiaosaurus is also unique in its feet; while other, more evolved therizinosaurs had three toes, it had four that were all functional, and gives another hint that it likely evolved from maniraptoran dinosaurs. Some people think that it may have had an appearance similar to a Panda.
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