Sinopeltosaurus in Yunnan

Sinopeltosaurus is a dubious genus of extinct scelidosaurid ornithischian dinosaur described by Roman Ulansky. The type and only species is S. minimus of the lower Jurassic Lufeng Formation of Yunnan China, based on an articulated set of ankle bones. In 2016, Peter Malcolm Galton and Kenneth Carpenter identified it as a nomen dubium, and listed it as Ornithischia indet., possible Thyreophora indet. Ulansky variously referred to it as Sinopeltosaurus minimus or Sinopelta minima; Galton and Carpenter, as the first revisers under ICZN, made the former official.

Discovery and Naming

  • Discovery: Fossils of Sinopeltosaurus were discovered in Yunnan Province, China. This region is renowned for its rich deposits of dinosaur fossils from various periods.
  • Naming: The name “Sinopeltosaurus” combines “Sino,” referring to China, with “peltosaurus,” meaning “shield lizard” in Greek, highlighting its armored nature.

Physical Characteristics

  • Body Structure: As an ankylosaur, Sinopeltosaurus would have had a heavily armored body, with bony plates (osteoderms) embedded in its skin for protection against predators.
  • Size and Shape: Like other ankylosaurs, it would have had a broad, low-slung body with sturdy limbs, ideal for a herbivorous lifestyle.
  • Tail Club: Many ankylosaurs are known for their distinctive tail clubs used for defense. While specific details about Sinopeltosaurus’ tail club are not well-documented, it is likely to have had some form of this feature.


  • Evolutionary Insight: The discovery of Sinopeltosaurus helps paleontologists understand the diversity and evolution of ankylosaurs in Asia during the Early Cretaceous period.
  • Adaptation: The armored body of Sinopeltosaurus is an example of the evolutionary adaptations these dinosaurs developed for survival in a predator-rich environment.

Fossil Sites in Yunnan

  • Yunnan Province is an important region for dinosaur fossil discoveries, with various sites providing critical insights into the diversity of prehistoric life.
  • The fossils found here contribute to our understanding of the paleoecology and geological history of the Early Cretaceous period.


  • Habitat: Sinopeltosaurus would have lived in a lush, forested environment with abundant vegetation, which supported its herbivorous diet.
  • Ecological Role: As a herbivore, it played a crucial role in its ecosystem, contributing to the maintenance of plant populations and serving as prey for large carnivorous dinosaurs.

Importance of Yunnan in Paleontology

  • Yunnan’s extensive fossil record makes it a vital area for studying the evolutionary history of dinosaurs and other prehistoric life.
  • Discoveries like Sinopeltosaurus add to the richness of Yunnan’s paleontological heritage, providing valuable data for scientific research and education.

Sinopeltosaurus is an intriguing example of the armored dinosaurs that once roamed the Earth, and its discovery in Yunnan highlights the region’s significance in the field of paleontology.