A new armored dinosaur species have been unearthed in China, and it is the oldest one ever discovered in Asia. The new species indicates that these dinosaurs may have been more diversified in their look throughout the Early Jurassic than previously thought, with unusual morphology that makes for some pretty punk paleoart. Yuxisaurus kopchicki, a new thyreophoran species that join the spiky bois Stegosaurus and Ankylosaurus, has been named and described in an article published in eLife by researchers from China, the United States, and the Natural History Museum in London. It roamed the Yunnan Province of China between 192 and 174 million years ago, making it the oldest armored dinosaur yet discovered in Asia.
Y. kopchicki was built like a tank, with a stocky physique and spiky armor, making it a difficult opponent for carnivores in the Early Jurassic. Its Latin name, “Yuxisaurus,” is a reference to the Yuxi Prefecture in China, where it was discovered. The word “kopchicki” is a nod to molecular scientist Dr. John J Kopchick’s contributions to biology and the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where several of the paper’s authors attended college. It was most likely a quadrupedal dinosaur walking on four legs, but it might also have walked on two, according to Dr. Shundong Bi, a professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and senior author on the research.
A partial skeleton consisting composed of fragments of the dinosaur’s head, mouth, shoulders, limbs, and armored spines and plates provided insights into the dinosaur’s anatomy and behavior. While they don’t provide the entire image, they do exhibit distinctive features surrounding the skull and are one of the most complete and well-preserved examples from this period and locale. In a statement sent to IFLScience, Professor Paul Barrett, Merit Researcher at the Natural History Museum in London and first author, said, “Although we’ve had tantalizing fragments of early armoured dinosaurs from Asia, this is the first time we’ve had enough material to recognize a new species from the region and investigate its evolutionary history.”
“I’m hoping it’s only the beginning of a long line of new dinosaurs found by my Yunnan colleagues.” Bashanosaurus primitivus, a new stegosaur species introduced to the globe earlier this month, is the latest find. The smaller dinosaur, also from Asia, strutted around 160 million years ago and maybe the earliest stegosaur known to science.