Guanlong is the earliest known tyrannosauroid - the group of dinosaurs that includes Tyrannosaurus rex. This crested species is known only from northwestern China, where it hunted small prey during the Late Jurassic, 160 million years ago.
Guanlong was discovered in the Wukaiwan area of the JungaarBasin, northwestern China. It was named by Chinese palaeontologistXu Xing and colleagues in 2006. It was given the name Guanlong, which means 'crowned dragon', in reference to thestunning ornamental crest on top of its head.
Guanlong's delicate head crest projects upwards andbackwards from the snout, and is larger and more exaggerated thanany other carnivorous dinosaur. It was also filled with air to keepit light. The crest was probably used for display and may have beencolorful.
The species name wucaii stems from the Chinese 'wucai', meaning 'fivecolours'. This refers to the rainbow coloured rocks in which thefossil bones of Guanlong were found.
As the earliest known tyrannosauroid, Guanlong provides information about the early evolution ofthe group that led to Tyrannosaurus rex. The infamous T. rex may have been massive, but 90 million years earlier,its Chinese cousin Guanlong was far more modestly sized - about as long as acow. Only the bones of Guanlong are known, but other tyrannosauroids (Dilong, Yutyrannus) have evidence that they were covered infeathers. Therefore, it is possible that Guanlong had feathers too.
Guanlong lived alongside a wide variety of other dinosaursin China during the Oxfordian Stage of the Late Jurassic, 160million years ago. It probably hunted and ate small prey such asother small dinosaurs.