genus of reptiles (fossil)

Zhenyuanlong[1] is a genus of dromaeosaurid dinosaur from the Yixian Formation of Liaoning, China. It lived in the early Cretaceous period, about 125 million years ago.

Temporal range: Early Cretaceous 125 Ma
Fossil specimen
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Dinosauria
Clade: Saurischia
Clade: Theropoda
Family: Dromaeosauridae
Genus: Zhenyuanlong
Lü & Brusatte, 2015
Z. suni
Binomial name
Zhenyuanlong suni
Lü & Brusatte, 2015

There is just one specimen.[2][3] It is estimated the skeleton would have been about 165 centimetres (5.41 ft) long when complete. That means the animal was too large to have flown, especially since early flight was, almost certainly, less efficient than the flight of modern birds. It would surely have looked more like a bird than a modern reptile. This is shown in most reconstructions of dinobirds.

This type specimen has a nearly complete skeleton with traces of feathers, including long tail feathers and large wings. This specimen is the first evidence of well-developed feathers in a large, non-flying dromaeosaur. The feathers probably had two functions: temperature control and signalling.


  1. meaning "Zhenyuan's dragon", from Chinese Pinyin 龙 lóng "dragon"
  2. Junchang Lü & Stephen L. Brusatte 2015. A large, short-armed, winged dromaeosaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the early Cretaceous of China and its implications for feather evolution. Scientific Reports 5: 11775. [1]
  3. Gill, Victoria 2015. Dinosaur find: Velociraptor ancestor was 'winged dragon'. BBC News Science & Environment. [2]