Caenagnathoidea ("recent jaw forms") is a group of advanced oviraptorosaurian dinosaurs from the Cretaceous Period of what are now Asia and North America. They are distinct for their characteristically short, beaked, parrot-like skulls, often with bony crests atop the head. They ranged in size from Caudipteryx, which was the size of a turkey, to the 8 meter long, 1.4 ton Gigantoraptor.[1] The group (along with all maniraptoran dinosaurs) is close to the ancestry of birds. The most complete specimens have been found in Asia, representing members of the sub-group Oviraptorinae.[2] Notable but fragmentary remains are also known from North America, almost all of which belong to the subgroup Elmisaurinae.[2]

The earliest definitive caenangnathoid is Microvenator celer, which dates to the late Aptian age of the early Cretaceous period, though the slightly earlier Caudipteryx from the lower Yixian Formation of China, may also be a member of this group.

Temporal range: Cretaceous, 125–66 Ma
Fossil skeleton of Khaan mckennai
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Dinosauria
Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Theropoda
Clade: Oviraptorosauria
Superfamily: Caenagnathoidea
Sternberg, 1940
Type species
Caenagnathus collinsi
Sternberg, 1940


The internal classification of the oviraptorosaurs has also been controversial. Most early studies divided them into two primary sub-groups, the Caenagnathidae and the Oviraptoridae. The Oviraptoridae was further divided into the small, short-armed, and crestless subfamily Ingeniinae, and the larger, crested, long-armed Oviraptorinae. However, later phylogenetic studies showed that many traditional members of the Caenagnathidae were in fact more closely related to the crested oviraptorids. Because Caenagnathus itself is no longer considered part of this group, the subfamily is usually now termed the Elmisaurinae. The taxonomy here follows the one presented by Thomas Holtz, Jr. in 2010 unless otherwise noted.[3]

The following cladogram follows an analysis by Phil Senter, 2007.[4]










IGM 100/42














See also


  1. ^ Xu, X., Tan, Q., Wang, J., Zhao, X., and Tan, L. (2007). "A gigantic bird-like dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of China." Nature, 447: 844-847.
  2. ^ a b Varricchio, D. J. 2001. Late Cretaceous oviraptorosaur (Theropoda) dinosaurs from Montana. pp. 42–57 in D. H. Tanke and K. Carpenter (eds.), Mesozoic Vertebrate Life. Indiana University Press, Indianapolis, Indiana.
  3. ^ Holtz, Thomas R. Jr. (2010) Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages, Winter 2010 Appendix.
  4. ^ Senter, P. (2007). "A new look at the phylogeny of Coelurosauria (Dinosauria: Theropoda)." Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, (doi:10.1017/S1477201907002143).
  • Barsbold, R. (1983). "Carnivorous dinosaurs from the Cretaceous of Mongolia". Transactions of the Joint Soviet-Mongolian Paleontological Expedition. 8: 39–44.
Anzu wyliei

Anzu (named for Anzû, a feathered demon in ancient Mesopotamian mythology) is a genus of large oviraptorosaurian dinosaurs from the late Cretaceous (66 million years ago) of North Dakota and South Dakota, US. The type species is Anzu wyliei.

In 2015, the International Institute for Species Exploration names it as one of the "Top 10 New Species" for new species discovered in 2014.


Avimimus ( AY-vi-MY-məs), meaning "bird mimic" (Latin avis = bird + mimus = mimic), was a genus of oviraptorosaurian theropod dinosaur, named for its bird-like characteristics, that lived in the late Cretaceous in what is now Mongolia, around 70 million years ago.


Caenagnathasia ('recent jaw from Asia') is a small caenagnathid oviraptorosaurian theropod from the Late Cretaceous of Uzbekistan.


Caenagnathidae is a family of bird-like maniraptoran theropod dinosaurs from the Late Cretaceous of North America and Asia. They are a member of the Oviraptorosauria, and close relatives of the Oviraptoridae. Like other oviraptorosaurs, caenagnathids had specialized beaks, long necks, and short tails, and would have been covered in feathers. The relationships of caenagnathids were long a puzzle. The family was originally named by Charles Hazelius Sternberg in 1940 as a family of flightless birds. The discovery of skeletons of the related oviraptorids revealed that they were in fact non-avian theropods, and the discovery of more complete caenagnathid remains revealed that Chirostenotes pergracilis, originally named on the basis of a pair of hands, and "Ornithomimus" elegans, named from a foot, were caenagnathids as well.


Caenagnathus ('recent jaw') is a genus of caenagnathid oviraptorosaurian dinosaur from the late Cretaceous (Campanian; ~75 million years ago). It is known from partial remains including lower jaws, a tail vertebra, hand bones, and hind limbs, all found in the Dinosaur Park Formation of Alberta, Canada. Caenagnathus weighted about a maximum of 96 kg (212 lb).


Caudipteryx (which means "tail feather") is a genus of peacock-sized theropod dinosaurs that lived in the Aptian age of the early Cretaceous Period (about 124.6 million years ago). They were feathered and remarkably birdlike in their overall appearance.

Two species have been described; C. zoui (the type species), in 1998, and C. dongi, in 2000.Caudipteryx fossils were first discovered in the Yixian Formation of the Sihetun area of Liaoning Province, northeastern China in 1997.

Dinosaur classification

Dinosaur classification began in 1842 when Sir Richard Owen placed Iguanodon, Megalosaurus, and Hylaeosaurus in "a distinct tribe or suborder of Saurian Reptiles, for which I would propose the name of Dinosauria." In 1887 and 1888 Harry Seeley divided dinosaurs into the two orders Saurischia and Ornithischia, based on their hip structure. These divisions have proved remarkably enduring, even through several seismic changes in the taxonomy of dinosaurs.

The largest change was prompted by entomologist Willi Hennig's work in the 1950s, which evolved into modern cladistics. For specimens known only from fossils, the rigorous analysis of characters to determine evolutionary relationships between different groups of animals (clades) proved incredibly useful. When computer-based analysis using cladistics came into its own in the 1990s, paleontologists became among the first zoologists to almost wholeheartedly adopt the system. Progressive scrutiny and work upon dinosaurian interrelationships, with the aid of new discoveries that have shed light on previously uncertain relationships between taxa, have begun to yield a stabilizing classification since the mid-2000s. While cladistics is the predominant classificatory system among paleontology professionals, the Linnean system is still in use, especially in works intended for popular distribution.


Epichirostenotes is a genus of oviraptorosaurian dinosaur from the late Cretaceous. Epichirostenotes is known from an incomplete skeleton found in 1923 at the Horseshoe Canyon Formation, in strata dated to about 72 million years ago. It was first named by Robert M. Sullivan, Steven E. Jasinski and Mark P.A. van Tomme in 2011 and the type species is Epichirostenotes curriei. Its holotype, ROM 43250, had been assigned to Chirostenotes pergracilis by Hans-Dieter Sues in 1997.


Incisivosaurus ("incisor lizard") is a genus of small, probably herbivorous theropod dinosaur from the early Cretaceous Period of what is now the People's Republic of China. The first specimen to be described (by Xu et al. in 2002), IVPP V13326, is a skull that was collected from the lowermost levels (the fluvial Lujiatun beds) of the Yixian Formation (dating to the Barremian stage about 126 million years ago in the Sihetun area, near Beipiao City, in western Liaoning Province. The most significant, and highly unusual, characteristic of this dinosaur is its apparent adaptation to an herbivorous or omnivorous lifestyle. It was named for its prominent, rodent-like front teeth, which show wear patterns commonly found in plant-eating dinosaurs. The specific name gauthieri honors Dr. Jacques Gauthier, a pioneer of the phylogenetic method of classification.


Nankangia is an extinct genus of caenagnathoid oviraptorosaurian dinosaur known from the Late Cretaceous Nanxiong Formation of Nankang County, Ganzhou City of Jiangxi Province, southeastern China. It contains a single species, Nankangia jiangxiensis. N. jiangxiensis coexisted with at least four other caenagnathoids, including an unnamed oviraptorid, Banji long, Ganzhousaurus nankangensis and Jiangxisaurus ganzhouensis. The relatively short dentary and non-downturned mandibular symphysis of Nankangia suggest that it may have been more herbivorous than carnivorous.


Nemegtomaia is a genus of oviraptorid dinosaur from what is now Mongolia that lived in the Late Cretaceous Period, about 70 million years ago. The first specimen was found in 1996, and became the basis of the new genus and species N. barsboldi in 2004. The original genus name was Nemegtia, but this was changed to Nemegtomaia in 2005, as the former name was preoccupied. The first part of the generic name refers to the Nemegt Basin, where the animal was found, and the second part means "good mother", in reference to the fact that oviraptorids are known to have brooded their eggs. The specific name honours the palaeontologist Rinchen Barsbold. Two more specimens were found in 2007, one of which was found on top of a nest with eggs, but the dinosaur had received its genus name before it was found associated with eggs.

Nemegtomaia is estimated to have been around 2 m (7 ft) in length, and to have weighed 40 kg (85 lb). As an oviraptorosaur, it would have been feathered. It had a deep, narrow, and short skull, with an arched crest. It was toothless, had a short snout with a parrot-like beak, and a pair of tooth-like projections on its palate. It had three fingers; the first was largest and bore a strong claw. Nemegtomaia is classified as a member of the oviraptorid subfamily Ingeniinae, and it the only known member of this group with a cranial crest. Though Nemegtomaia has been used to suggest that oviraptorosaurs were flightless birds, the clade is generally considered a group of non-avian dinosaurs.

The nesting Nemegtomaia specimen was placed on top of what was probably a ring of eggs, with its arms folded across them. None of the eggs are complete, but they are estimated to have been 5 to 6 cm (2 to 2.3 in) wide and 14 to 16 cm (5 to 6 in) long when intact. The specimen was found in a stratigraphic area that indicates Nemegtomaia preferred nesting near streams that would provide soft, sandy substrate and food. Nemegtomaia may have protected its eggs by covering them with its tail and wing feathers. The skeleton of the nesting specimen has damage that indicates it was scavenged by skin beetles. The diet of oviraptorids is uncertain, but their skulls are most similar to other animals that are known or thought to have been herbivorous. Nemegtomaia is known from the Nemegt and Baruungoyot Formations, which are thought to represent humid and arid environments that coexisted in the same area,


Ojoraptorsaurus is a genus of oviraptorosaurian dinosaur from the late Cretaceous. Ojoraptorsaurus is only known from pubic bones found at the Naashoibito Member of the Ojo Alamo Formation dating to the early Maastrichtian, about 69 million years ago. It was first named by Robert M. Sullivan, Steven E. Jasinski and Mark P.A. van Tomme in 2011 and the type species is Ojoraptorsaurus boerei. The generic name combines a reference to the formation with a Latin raptor, "plunderer", and a Latinised Greek saurus, "lizard". The specific name honours oceanographer Arjan Boeré who found the specimen.


Oviraptor is a genus of small Mongolian theropod dinosaurs, first discovered by technician George Olsen in an expedition led by Roy Chapman Andrews, and first described by Henry Fairfield Osborn, in 1924. Its name is Latin for 'egg taker' or "egg seizer", referring to the fact that the first fossil specimen was discovered atop a pile of what were thought to be Protoceratops eggs, and the specific name philoceratops means "lover of ceratopsians", also given as a result of this find. In his 1924 paper, Osborn explained that the name was given due to the close proximity of the skull of Oviraptor to the nest (it was separated from the eggs by only 4 inches or 10 centimetres of sand). However, Osborn also suggested that the name Oviraptor "may entirely mislead us as to its feeding habits and belie its character". In the 1990s, the discovery of nesting oviraptorids like Citipati proved that Osborn was correct in his caution regarding the name. These finds showed that the eggs in question probably belonged to Oviraptor itself, and that the specimen was actually brooding its eggs, when it died at the nest.

Oviraptor lived in the late Cretaceous period, during the late Campanian stage about 75 million years ago; only one definitive specimen is known (with associated eggs), from the Djadokhta Formation of Mongolia, though a possible second specimen (also with eggs) comes from the northeast region of Inner Mongolia, China, in an area called Bayan Mandahu.


Oviraptoridae is a group of bird-like, herbivorous and omnivorous maniraptoran dinosaurs. Oviraptorids are characterized by their toothless, parrot-like beaks and, in some cases, elaborate crests. They were generally small, measuring between one and two metres long in most cases, though some possible oviraptorids were enormous. Oviraptorids are currently known only from the Late Cretaceous of Asia, with the most well-known species and complete specimens found only in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia and northwestern China.


Oviraptorosaurs ("egg thief lizards") are a group of feathered maniraptoran dinosaurs from the Cretaceous Period of what are now Asia and North America. They are distinct for their characteristically short, beaked, parrot-like skulls, with or without bony crests atop the head. They ranged in size from Caudipteryx, which was the size of a turkey, to the 8 metre long, 1.4 ton Gigantoraptor. The group (along with all maniraptoran dinosaurs) is close to the ancestry of birds. Analyses like those of Maryanska et al (2002) and Osmólska et al. (2004) suggest that they may represent primitive flightless birds. The most complete oviraptorosaur specimens have been found in Asia. The North American oviraptorosaur record is sparse.The earliest and most basal ("primitive") known oviraptorosaurs are Ningyuansaurus wangi, Protarchaeopteryx robusta and Incisivosaurus gauthieri, both from the lower Yixian Formation of China, dating to about 125 million years ago during the Aptian age of the early Cretaceous period. A tiny neck vertebra reported from the Wadhurst Clay Formation of England shares some features in common with oviraptorosaurs, and may represent an earlier occurrence of this group (at about 140 million years ago).


Pope's nose redirects here. It may also refer to the licence plate light on early Volkswagen Beetles.

Pygostyle describes a skeletal condition in which the final few caudal vertebrae are fused into a single ossification, supporting the tail feathers and musculature. In modern birds, the rectrices attach to these. The pygostyle is the main component of the uropygium, a structure colloquially known as the parson's nose, pope's nose, or sultan's nose. This is the fleshy protuberance visible at the posterior end of a bird (most commonly a chicken or turkey) that has been dressed for cooking. It has a swollen appearance because it also contains the uropygial gland that produces preen oil.


Shixinggia is a genus of oviraptorosaurian dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous period of Shixing County, Guangdong, China. While no skull was recovered, the specimen (BVP-112) is known from a fair amount of post-cranial material that shows it was a fairly derived oviraptorosaur (slightly more advanced than Nomingia), of superfamily Caenagnathoidea. Lü et al. (2003, 2005) describe it as an oviraptorid, but it could possibly be a caenagnathid [1]. Along with the more advanced Heyuannia, Shixinggia is one of the few oviraptorosaurs known from China.

Timeline of oviraptorosaur research

This timeline of oviraptorosaur research is a chronological listing of events in the history of paleontology focused on the oviraptorosaurs, a group of beaked, bird-like theropod dinosaurs. The early history of oviraptorosaur paleontology is characterized by taxonomic confusion due to the unusual characteristics of these dinosaurs. When initially described in 1924 Oviraptor itself was thought to be a member of the Ornithomimidae, popularly known as the "ostrich" dinosaurs, because both taxa share toothless beaks. Early caenagnathid oviraptorosaur discoveries like Caenagnathus itself were also incorrectly classified at the time, having been misidentified as birds.The hypothesis that caenagnathids were birds was questioned as early as 1956 by Romer, but not corrected until Osmolska formally reclassified them as dinosaurs in 1976. Meanwhile, the classification of Oviraptor as an ornithomimid persisted unquestioned by researchers like Romer and Steel until the early 1970s when Dale Russell argued against the idea in 1972. In 1976 when Osmolska recognized Oviraptor's relationship with the Caenagnathids, she also recognized that it was not an ornithomimid and reclassified it as a member of the former family. However, that same year Rinchen Barsbold argued that Oviraptor belonged to a distinct family he named the Oviraptoridae and he also formally named the Oviraptorosauria later in the same year.Like their classification, the paleobiology of oviraptorosaurs has been subject to controversy and reinterpretation. The first scientifically documented Oviraptor skeleton was found lying on a nest of eggs. Because its powerful parrot-like beak appeared well-adapted to crushing hard food items and the eggs were thought to belonged to the neoceratopsian Protoceratops, oviraptorosaurs were thought to be nest-raiders that preyed on the eggs of other dinosaurs. In the 1980s, Barsbold proposed that oviraptorosaurs used their beaks to crack mollusk shells as well. In 1993, Currie and colleagues hypothesized that small vertebrate prey may have also been part of the oviraptorosaur diet. Not long after, fossil embryonic remains cast doubt on the popular reconstruction of oviraptorosaurs as egg thieves when it was discovered that the "Protoceratops" eggs that Oviraptor was thought to be "stealing" actually belonged to Oviraptor itself. The discovery of additional Oviraptor preserved on top of nests in lifelike brooding posture firmly established that oviraptorosaurs had been "framed" as egg thieves and were actually caring parents incubating their own nests.


Wulatelong is an extinct genus of basal oviraptorid dinosaur known from the Late Cretaceous Wulansuhai Formation (Campanian stage) of Bayan Mandahu, Linhe District of Inner Mongolia, northern China. It contains a single species, Wulatelong gobiensis.

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