15 Dinosaurs That Lived In Modern-Day China

Leave a comment / / Updated on: 19th December 2023

china dinosaurs

For most of the Mesozoic Era, China and other parts of Asia had an arid or semi-arid climate. 

Interestingly, the region’s ecosystem still managed to support a rich array of dinosaurs. 

In fact, China hosts some of the richest assemblage of dinosaurs in the world. 

The country also has a long and rich history of dinosaur discoveries that date back to the early 20th century. 

In recent years, paleontologists working in China have made some of the most significant dinosaur discoveries in the world. 

This includes the discovery of well-preserved fossils of feathered dinosaurs that provided the conclusive link between dinosaurs and birds

Several other remarkable dinosaur groups have been found in this region as well, from giant meat-eating theropods to massive long-necked sauropods

In this article, we’ll list some of the most notable dinosaur species known to have lived in modern China millions of years ago. 

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15. Agilisaurus 

Agilisaurus life restoration - Danny Cicchetti - License
Agilisaurus life restoration – Danny Cicchetti – License
Name Meaning“Agile Lizard “
EraMesozoic – Middle Jurassic
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia & Neornithischia
Height0.6 meters (2 feet ) 
Length1.2-1.7 meters (3.5–4 feet) 
Weight40 kg (88 lbs) 
LocationTanzania (Africa)

Agilisaurus was an ornithischian dinosaur that lived during the Middle Jurassic Period. 

The almost-intact fossil of this dinosaur was discovered in 1984 in one of China’s most important fossil sites, the Shaximiao Formation, located in the Sichuan Province. 

Agilisaurus is one of several dinosaurs discovered during the construction of the Zigong Dinosaur Museum, which currently sits on this site. 

The museum hosts the largest number of dinosaur fossils in the world. 

Agilisaurus was a herbivore with a dentition that seemed to be well-adapted to a plant-based diet. 

The dinosaur’s teeth had a wavy enamel, which made them more resistant to wear. 

This type of tooth is also found in other ornithopods and hadrosaurs.

14. Archaeoceratops

Archaeoceratops | Nobu Tamura via Wikipedia CC BY 3.0
Name Meaning“Ancient horned face “
EraMesozoic — Early Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia,‭ ‬Ceratopsia
Height0.23 meters (1 foot)
Length0.9 meters (3.0 feet)
Weight10 kilograms (22 pounds)
LocationChina (Asia)

Archaeoceratops lived in North Central China during the Early Cretaceous Period. 

It belonged to a family of dinosaurs known as the ceratopsians (horned-face dinosaurs), known for their large frills, facial horns, and other facial adornments. 

Archaeoceratops was a primitive member of this group, and its name translates as “ancient horned face.”

Although it had a large head and a small bony frill projecting from the back of its head, this dinosaur had no horns or any other cranial adornment.

Archaeoceratops was also relatively small compared to the younger ceratopsid dinosaurs that evolved later in the Cretaceous. 

It was bipedal but was capable of switching to a quadrupedal stance when feeding on low-lying vegetation. 

13. Bactrosaurus

Bactrosaurus | Dinoboy5387 via Dinopedia Fandom
Name Meaning“Club lizard”
EraMesozoic — Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Ornithopoda
Height2 meters (6.6 feet)
Length6 meters (20 feet)
Weight1.2 tons (2600 pounds)
LocationChina (Asia)

Bactrosaurus was a hadrosaurid dinosaur that lived in parts of Asia during the Cretaceous Period, about 96 million years ago. 

Fossils of this dinosaur have been recovered from the Iren Dabasu Formation, located in the Gobi Desert of China.

It is one of the earliest known hadrosaurid dinosaurs and showed several primitive qualities, including a lack of typical cranial crest seen in other hadrosaurid dinosaurs. 

The name Bactrosaurus translates as “club lizard, ” which refers to the large club-shaped neural spines that project out of some of the dinosaur’s vertebrae. 

Although no complete remains of this dinosaur have been found so far, Bactrosaurus is still considered one of the best-known basal hadrosaurs ever discovered. 

12. Caudipteryx 

Caudipteryx 3D Illustration
Caudipteryx | CoreyFord via Istock
Name Meaning“Tail feather”
EraMesozoic – Early Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia, Theropoda
Height1m (3 feet)
Length72.5–89 centimeters (2.38–2.92 feet)
Weight5–10 kilograms (11–22 pounds)
LocationChina (Asia)

Caudipteryx is one of several bird-like dinosaurs recovered from Ancient China in the 1990s. 

In fact, this dinosaur was so bird-like that scientists initially thought it was an actual bird.

This theropod dinosaur was about the same size as a peacock. 

It lived during the Early Cretaceous Period, about 120 million years ago. 

One of the most distinctive physical attributes of this dinosaur was the fan of feathers on its tail. 

The dinosaur’s name, which means “tail feathers,” refers to this unique feature. 

Scientists have been able to determine the likely color of this dinosaur’s feathers. 

The feathers were, with a visible banding pattern.

11. Chungkingosaurus 

Life reconstruction of Chungkingosaurus
Reconstruction of Chungkingosaurus / Connor Ashbridge – License
Name Meaning“Chongqing lizard”
EraMesozoic – Late Jurassic
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Thyreophora
Height1.3 meters (4.3 feet)
Length5 meters (16.4 feet)
Weight1,500kg (3307lbs)

The Chungkingosaurus is named after the Chongqing region of China, where its first fossils were recovered from. 

It was a stegosaurid dinosaur, which means it is a relative of the famous Stegosaurus

Chungkingosaurus was extremely small compared to other members of its family.

In fact, it is one of the smallest members of this group. 

However, it still retained many of the typical stegosaurid features, especially the rows of plates and spikes arranged in pairs along its back and tail. 

The total number of these plates and spikes is unknown.

This dinosaur has been dated back to the Late Jurassic Period, about 160 million years ago. 

10. Huayangosaurus 

Huayangosaurus 3D Render
Huayangosaurus 3D Render – CoreyFord via Istock
Name Meaning“Huayang lizard”
EraMesozoic – Middle Jurassic
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Thyreophora
Height1.3 meters (4.3 feet)
Length4 meters (13.1 feet)
Weight500 kilograms (1,100 lb)

Huayangosaurus lived in the Sichuan region of China during the Middle Jurassic Period. 

It was a stegosaurid dinosaur, a group of armored dinosaurs known for the double rows of spines arranged along their back. 

Huayangosaurus lived about 165 million years ago, up to 20 million years before the famous Stegosaurus evolved in North America. 

One notable difference between the Huayangosaurus and its other relatives is the fact that its dorsal plates looked more like spikes than actual plates. 

It had prominent tail spikes (thagomizers) and shoulder spikes that would have protected it against predators. 

Huayangosaurus was also relatively small compared to its relatives, with an average length of about 13 feet. 

9. Guanlong 

The crowned dragon Guanlong wucaii 
The crowned dragon Guanlong wucaii – Durbed – License
Name Meaning“Crown Dragon”
EraMesozoic – Late Jurassic
ClassificationDinosauria, Theropoda, Tyrannosauroidea
Height1.5 meters (5 feet)
Length3 meters (10 feet)
Weight125 kg (276 lb)
LocationChina (Asia)

Guanlong was a theropod dinosaur discovered in the Dzungaria region of China in the early 2000s. 

It is a relative of the famous Tyrannosaurus, although it predates its famous North American relative by up to 90 million years. 

The dinosaur’s name translates as “crested dragon,” referring to the prominent crest on its head. 

The appearance of this crest differed in the adult and juvenile forms of this dinosaur. 

The crest was smaller in the juveniles, suggesting it was probably used for display purposes in adults. 

With an average length of about 11 feet, Guanlong was a relatively small theropod dinosaur. 

8. Microraptor

Microraptor was a carnivorous four-winged reptile bird that lived in Mongolia, China during the Cretaceous Period.
Blue-feathered Microraptor 3D Illustration – CoreyFord via Istock
Name Meaning“Small Thief or Tiny Predator”
EraMesozoic – Early Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia & Theropoda
DietCarnivorous (potentially scavenging) or piscivorous
Height0.4 meters (1.3 feet)
Length80centimeters (2.6 feet)
Weight1.25–1.88 kilograms (2.8–4.1 lbs)
LocationChina (Asia) 

The Microraptor is one of the most famous dinosaurs known to have lived in China. 

It was a dromaeosaurid dinosaur, a group of dinosaurs generally referred to as raptors with famous members like the Velociraptor

Microraptor was among the smallest members of this group and also one of the smallest dinosaurs to have ever lived.

This dinosaur lived in the Liaoning province of China during the Cretaceous Period, about 120 million years ago. 

The Microraptor had long pennaceous feathers on both its forelimbs and hindlimbs.

Despite having four wings like this, this dinosaur was incapable of powered flight. 

7. Mamenchisaurus 

strangest dinosaurs
Mamenchisaurus 3D render – Elenarts108 via Istock
Name Meaning“Mamenchi Lizard”
EraMesozoic – Late Jurassic
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia & Sauropoda
Height10–15 meters (33–49 feet)
Length21 to 22 meters (69 to 72 feet)
Weight20–40 metric tons (44,000–88,000 pounds)
LocationChina (Asia)

Mamenchisaurus was a sauropod dinosaur that lived in China during the Late Jurassic Period. 

The first fossil of this dinosaur was discovered in 1952 during the construction of the Yitang Highway, located in China’s Sichuan. 

Mamenchisaurus is one of the largest dinosaurs known from China, with an estimated length of up to 35 meters (115 feet) for some species.

This dinosaur is known for its extremely long neck, which takes up about half of its entire body length. 

Mamenchisaurus also had a long tail, which may have had a club on its end to help protect the dinosaur from predators. 

6. Micropachycephalosaurus

Gage Beasley Prehistoric's Micropachycephalosaurus Concept
Gage Beasley Prehistoric’s Micropachycephalosaurus Concept
Name Meaning“Tiny thick-headed lizard”
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia & Ceratopsia
Height100 centimeters (3.2 feet)
Length1 to 2 meters (3 to 6.5 feet) 
Weight2.3–4.5 kg (5–10 lbs)
LocationAsia (China)

Popular as the dinosaur with the longest name, this ceratopsian dinosaur lived in China during the Late Cretaceous Period.

Micropachycephalosaurus is closely related to the Pachycephalosaurus

Both dinosaurs are known for their extremely thick, dome-shaped skull, which gives them a distinctive appearance. 

The dinosaur’s name translates as “small thick-headed lizard,” a reference to its small size and the dinosaur’s thick skull. 

As the name suggests, Micropachycephalosaurus was quite small, with a maximum length of about one meter (3.3 feet), even for a fully grown adult. 

Another unique feature of this dinosaur was the neural spine on its back and tail region. 

5. Dilong 

Dilong 3D concept
Dilong 3D concept – CoreyFord via Istock
Name Meaning“Emperor dragon”
EraMesozoic – Early Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia, Theropoda
Height1 meter (3.3 feet) at the hip
Length2-3 meters (6.5-10 feet) 
Weight6-13 kilograms (13-28 pounds)
LocationChina (Asia)

Also known as the “emperor dragon,” Dilong is a primitive relative of the Tyrannosaurus that lived in the Western Liaoning province of China about 120 million years ago. 

Like many other theropod dinosaurs known from this region, the Dilong was relatively small. 

The average adult length of this dinosaur has been estimated to be about 6.6 feet, with an average weight of about six kilograms (13 pounds). 

The Dilong has a covering of feathers on its body, which were well-preserved in its remains. 

The feathers looked different from that of modern birds.

They may have provided some level of insulation for this dinosaur but were not well-developed enough to be useful for flight. 

4. Protoceratops 

strangest dinosaurs
Protoceratops on a white background | cyoginan via iStock
Name Meaning“First horned face”
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia & Ceratopsia
Height50–60 centimeters (19.7–23.6 inches)
Length2–2.5 meters (6.6–8.2 feet)
Weight62–104 kg (137–229 lbs)

Protoceratops was a type of ceratopsian dinosaur that lived in China about 75 million years ago. 

Scientists once thought this dinosaur was the ancestor of the ceratopsian dinosaurs that evolved much later in the Cretaceous Period. 

This is why it was named Protoceratops—first horned face. 

The Protoceratops was a relatively small ceratopsian dinosaur, but it still had some notable ceratopsid features, including an oversized head and prominent neck frills. 

The frill was slightly different from that of other related dinosaurs because it had a long ridge at its center. 

Unlike some of its more derived relatives, this dinosaur did not have prominent horns or horn-like projections on its face. 

3. Sinornithosaurus

Sinornithosasurus | FunkMonk via Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0
Name Meaning“Chinese bird-lizard”
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia, Theropoda
Height0.5 meters (1.6 feet)
Length1.2 meters (3.9 feet)
Weight3–5 kilograms (6.6–11.0 pounds)
LocationChina (Asia)

The Sinornithosaurus was among the first set of dinosaurs found with a significant covering of feathers on their body. 

Fossils of this dinosaur are known from China’s famous Yixian formation and have been dated back to the Early Cretaceous Period, about 130 million years ago. 

Sinornithosaurus is classified as a raptor (dromaeosaurid dinosaur) and is considered a basal member of this group. 

Primitive raptors like the Sinornithosaurus shared more similarities with modern birds than the members of the group that evolved later did. 

The feathers of this dinosaur were particularly similar to the down feathers of modern birds, but the Sinornithosaurus had no flight feathers. 

2. Yinlong 

Yinlong | Nobu Tamura via Wikipedia CC BY 3.0
Name Meaning“Hidden dragon”
EraMesozoic — Late Jurassic
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Ceratopsia
Height0.4 meters (1.5 feet) 
Length1.2 m (3.9 feet)
Weight10 kilograms (22 pounds) 
LocationChina (Asia)

Yinlong was a relatively small ceratopsian dinosaur that lived in the Western Province of Xinjiang, China, during the Late Jurassic Period. 

It is one of the earliest known ceratopsian dinosaurs in the fossil record. 

This dinosaur looked considerably different from the ceratopsian dinosaurs that evolved later in the Cretaceous. 

The prominent frills and horns of other ceratopsian dinosaurs were notably absent in the Yinlong

It was also smaller than its relatives and walked with a bipedal posture instead of the typical quadrupedal stance these dinosaurs were known for. 

Yinlong was a herbivore with a diet that consisted mainly of tough vegetation. 

It had gastroliths in its stomach, which helped process these plant materials. 

1. Tarbosaurus 

Tarbosaurus 3D render
Tarbosaurus 3D render | elenarts108 via iStock
Name Meaning“Alarming Lizard”
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria,‭ Saurischia & Theropoda
Height4 meters (13 feet)
Length10.57 meters (34.7 feet)
Weight4.5-5 tons (9,900–11023 lbs)
LocationMongolia & China (Asia)

The Tarbosaurus is China’s version of the Iconic Tyrannosaurus rex

In fact, some scientists think both dinosaurs are too similar to be considered separate genera. 

This large, bipedal dinosaur was about 33 feet long and was the apex predator in the humid floodplains of China about 70 million years ago. 

Although slightly smaller than the T. rex, the Tarbosaurus is still one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs ever discovered. 

One of the most notable features of the Tarbosaurus was its extremely reduced forearms. 

Although theropods are generally known for having small arms, the Tarbosaurus’ arms are the smallest of all members of its family. 


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