Animal of the Week: Alexandria

Name: Alexandria

Species: Guanlong wucaii

Description: Guanlong is an early relative of Tyrannosaurus. It is a proceratosaurid, the earliest major tyrannosauroid lineage, and Guanlong is among the first known. Like other early tyrannosauroids, it’s a fairly small and lithe animal. It has fairly large arms relative to larger tyrannosauroids, but bears other hallmarks of the group, such as teeth that are D-shaped in cross-section. Guanlong has a large crest on the top of its head - fragile and narrow, it is used for display. At three meters (9-10 feet) long Guanlong is a small opportunistic predator - a known victim of predator traps, into which it was probably drawn by herbivorous elaphrosaurines.

Location: Alexandria is one of our Ambassador Animals. She can be found in the Aspiring Paleontological Prodigies Program wing of the Anning Paleontological Museum, though she sometimes makes appearances in special events.

Fun Fact: Alexandria will eat almost anything you give her - if it’s served to her on a turquoise plate. Part of her ambassador training involved training her to eat off a turquoise plate (by putting delicious, smellier food on it) to make it less likely that she’ll try anything else, such as fingers. We suggest people who interact with her try to cover any turquoise, just in case.

Personality: Alexandria is our only Guanlong. After hatching she imprinted on keeper Jeremy Cruz, and so he raised her off-exhibit. It was during this time that Alexandria’s highly docile and people-friendly nature compared to our other coelurosaurs showed itself. Once she reached an appropriate age, we began training her as an ambassador. Alexandria’s willingness to engage in training sessions made this easy.

She’s proven herself well-fit for the job. She’s highly people-tolerant and doesn’t stress easily near large groups. She’ll even (most of the time) allow people to feel her protofeathers! Of course all interactions are still closely monitored, and she’s overall calmer if Jeremy’s nearby, but if you treat her with respect, she’ll treat you with respect. Just, don’t touch the head crest. She hates that.

Alexandria mostly lives in a suite in the museum. Small groups at a time can come in for visits and demonstrations. She also sometimes makes appearances at demonstrations elsewhere, mostly in the Education Hub, and at special events, such as the annual dinner.

sirscaleyscones  asked:

I don't want to be a bother, but do you mind if you can do a post about my favorite tyrannosaur, Yutyrannus?

Yutyrannus lived in China during the Early Cretaceous period, approximately 125 million years ago - although it was discovered fairly recently, being officially described only in 2012.  As it’s so recent, little is known about the animal, but one fairly interesting thing is certain…

At 30 feet in length, Yutyrannus was the largest definitively feathered dinosaur.  All three known specimens possess long, filamentous feathers growing on multiple locations on the body, including the neck, arms, pelvis, foot, and tail.  This leads me to believe that Yutyrannus was feathered over the entirety of its body.

The region of northeastern China that Yutyrannus inhabited was very cold during the Early Cretaceous, and Yutyrannus may have been feathered in order to keep itself warm in the snow.

While initially classified as a tyrannosaur, Yutyrannus was later found to belong to Proceratosauridae.  The proceratosaurids are closely related to the tyrannosaurids, but are more physiologically primitive, and are believed to have diverged from the ancestors of true tyrannosaurids during the Jurassic period.  Yutyrannus was initially mistaken for a tyrannosaurid due in part to its great size; most proceratosaurids are around one-third its size.  The only known exception is Sinotyrannus, a contemporary of Yutyrannus’s.