First ceratopsid dinosaur from China and its biogeographical implications
Ceratopsid dinosaurs represent one of the best known dinosaur groups in the Late Cretaceous, and their unquestionable fossil records are exclusively restricted to western North America. Here we report a new ceratopsid dinosaur, Sinoceratops zhuchengensis gen. et sp. nov., from the Upper Cretaceous Wangshi Group of Zhucheng, Shandong Province, China. Cladistic analysis places this new taxon as the only known ceratopsid from outside North America, in a basal position within the Centrosaurinae. It is considerably larger than most other centrosaurines but similar in size to basal chasmosaurines. Furthermore, it is more similar to chasmosaurines than to other centrosaurines in several features, thus blurring the distinction of the two ceratopsid subgroups. This new find not only provides significant information on the morphological transition from non-ceratopsid to ceratopsid dinosaurs, but also complicates the biogeography of the Ceratopsidae, and further demonstrates that fossil sampling has profound effects on reconstructing dinosaurian biogeography.