Xinjiangovenator (/"Xin-JIANG-o-VE-na-tor"/;"Xinjiang hunter") is a genus of theropod dinosaur, possibly a maniraptoran, that lived during the Early Cretaceous period (Valanginian to Albian stages) in what is now China. Its remains were discovered in the Lianmuqin Formation of Xinjiang, and it was first described by Dong Zhiming in 1973.

Description and Classification

Xinjiangovenator is known from very fragmentary remains. The holotype specimen (IVPP V4024-2) consists of just an articulated partial right leg, including the tibia (shinbone), pieces of the fibula (smaller lower leg bone), and some ankle bones (calcaneum and astragalus). Due to this, its exact size and appearance are uncertain.

The classification of Xinjiangovenator has been unstable. It's considered to be part of the Coelurosauria, a large group of theropod dinosaurs including everything from tyrannosaurs to birds, However, its exact placement within the group is debated. Some studies suggest it might be closely related to Ornitholestes, while others find it to have an uncertain position.

Significance and Uncertainties

Xinjiangovenator is an enigmatic dinosaur because of its limited fossil material. It does, however, highlight the diversity of theropod dinosaurs during the Early Cretaceous. Even though scientists can't definitively categorize it, the discovery of Xinjiangovenator fossils suggests that there's still much to uncover about the smaller predatory dinosaurs living alongside larger, well-known forms. More discoveries could give a clearer understanding of its appearance, relationships, and position within the dinosaur family tree.

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