Xuanhuasaurus (/"shwan-hwa-SORE-us"/; "Xuanhua lizard") is a genus of ceratopsian dinosaur from the Late Jurassic period of China. Fossils attributed to Xuanhuasaurus niei were discovered in the Houcheng Formation in Hebei Province, dating to approximately 150 million years ago.

Description and Classification:

Xuanhuasaurus was one of the earliest known ceratopsians, the diverse group of horned, frilled dinosaurs that includes Triceratops. It was likely a bipedal herbivore with a short frill and a parrot-like beak, though its exact size and proportions are unclear due to the fragmentary nature of its remains.

Xuanhuasaurus belongs to the family Chaoyangsauridae, a group of primitive ceratopsians known for their simple anatomy and lack of prominent horns. Its close relatives include Chaoyangsaurus and Yinlong.

Controversial Origins:

It's important to note that initially, the remains attributed to this dinosaur were given the name Xuanhuaceratops. However, the use of "Xuanhuaceratops" was controversial as the original description lacked sufficient diagnostic features to confidently distinguish it as a separate genus.

Significance and Ongoing Research:

Xuanhuasaurus is significant as it represents a very early stage of ceratopsian evolution. As one of the oldest known members of this iconic group, it offers valuable insights into the origins of their distinctive features and their initial steps towards diversification.

Due to the limited fossil material and its initial problematic description, more research is required to solidify the taxonomic status of Xuanhuasaurus and determine its exact relationship to other early ceratopsians.

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