Renowned Chinese palaeoartist Zhao Chuang has produced stunning illustrations of many dinosaurs and prehistoric animals. It is great to see that a lot of his work depicts dinosaurs that once roamed China. Today, we feature an illustration of the Ornithischian dinosaur Jinzhousaurus (J. yangi) being attacked by a flock of dromaeosaurids.
Jinzhousaurus yangi Ambushed by Dromaeosaurid Dinosaurs
Picture Credit: Zhao Chuang
The picture (above) shows a very colourful Jinzhousaurus being attacked by a trio of Theropod dinosaurs. Jinzhousaurus is known from a single, highly compressed specimen which includes most of the skeleton and skull. It lived around 122 million years ago (early Aptian faunal stage of the Early Cretaceous) in north-eastern China and is one of the Ornithischian constituents of the Yixian Formation palaeobiota. This herbivorous dinosaur measured around five metres in length. Where Jinzhousaurus sits on the dinosaur family tree remains uncertain. Despite well preserved (if somewhat flattened remains), the exact taxonomic position of this dinosaur is contentious. When first described in 2001, it was regarded as a member of the iguanodontids (hence the prominent thumb spike painted by Zhao Chuang). Recent studies have proposed that it was more closely related to the duck-billed dinosaurs. Jinzhousaurus shows a number of primitive and more derived anatomical characteristics so its placement within the Ornithopoda remains problematic. Current thinking is that it was a member of the Hadrosauroidea, a clade of Ornithischian dinosaurs that includes duck-billed dinosaurs (hadrosaurids) and all dinosaurs more closely related to them than to Iguanodon.
The trio of feathered raptors engaged in combat could represent a number of dinosaur species. Our notes on Zhao Chuang’s illustration do not define the dinosaurs concerned. Several dromaeosaurids and troodontids are known from the Yixian Formation. If we were to guess, then the three attacking Theropods illustrated by Zhao Chuang could represent Sinornithosaurus as fossils of this dromaeosaurid come from the same bedding planes (Dawangzhangzi Bed) of the Yixian Formation.