Original Scientific Article

Evolution: Education and Outreach

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 236-247

First online:

Evolutionary Transitions Among Dinosaurs: Examples from the Jurassic of China

  • James M. ClarkAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, George Washington University Email author 
  • , Xing XuAffiliated withLaboratory of Evolutionary Systematics of Vertebrates, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences


Dinosaurs have captured the popular imagination more than any other extinct group of organisms and are therefore a powerful tool in teaching evolutionary biology. Most students are familiar with a wide variety of dinosaurs and the relative suddenness of their extinction, but few are aware of the tremendous longevity of their time on Earth and the richness of their fossil record. We first review some of the best-known groups of dinosaurs and discuss how their less-specialized relatives elucidate the path through which each evolved. We then discuss our recent discovery of Yinlong downsi, a distant relative of Triceratops, and other fossils from Jurassic deposits in China to exemplify how the continuing discovery of fossils is filling out the dinosaur family tree.


Dinosaurs Evolution Transitional fossils Mesozoic China Jurassic