Dilong was a carnivore (meat-eater) that lived in
during the early Cretaceous period,
about 130 million years ago.
It is one the earliest members of the the Tyrannosauroid superfamily of dinosaurs.
The type specimen of Dilong is about 5¼ feet (1.6 meters) long, however it is believed
this is a juvenile individual and that adults may have grown to perhaps 6½ (2 meters) or more
in length. The type specimen also shows fossilized
skin impressions around the tail and jaw, and seem to depict feathers or proto-feathers. It should be noted however
The feathers or proto-feathers differ from those of modern birds in that they do not contain a central shaft.
Dilong was not able to fly or glide. It is therefore thought that the primary function of its feathers must
have been for warmth.
Fossilized skin impressions of some other
members of the Tyrannosauroid superfamily (althogh none of adult Dilong) have also been found. These skin
impressions appear to show the pebbly scales. As a result it is not clear whether Dilong differed from
other Tyrannosauroids by having feathers at all, whether feathers were perhaps found only on some parts of
Tyrannosauroids' bodies, whether juvenile Tyrannosauroids had feathers and lost they as they grew older and larger,
or some of combination of the previous hypotheses is correct.
The name Dilong means "emperor dragon" and is reference
to the animal being related to
(whose name of course means "tyrant lizard king").
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