Temporal range: Late Cretaceous, c 85 ma.
Xu et al., 2002
Xu et al., 2002
A fossil of Erliansaurus was found near Sanhangobi in Inner-Mongolia. The type species, Erliansaurus bellamanus, was described by Xu Xing, Zhang Xiaohong, Paul Sereno, Zhao Xijin, Kuang Xuewen, Han Jun and Tan Lin in 2002. The generic name refers to the town of Erlian. The specific name is derived from Latin bellus, "beautiful", and manus, "hand", in reference to the exquisite preservation of the forelimb.
The holotype, LH V0002, was uncovered in the Iren Dabasu Formation dating from the Santonian stage c 85 million years ago. It consists of a partial skeleton, lacking the skull, of a subadult individual. It includes five vertebrae of the neck, back and tail; a right scapula; a left forelimb lacking the carpus; parts of the pelvis; a right femur; both tibiae, a right fibula and elements of the metatarsus.
The type specimen represents a subadult about two-and-a-half metre long. In 2010 Gregory S. Paul estimated the adult length at four metres, the weight at four hundred kilogrammes. The thigh bone is 412 millimetres long.
Erliansaurus was a bipedal herbivore. For a therizinosauroid, its neck was rather short. The tibia was relatively long. Its fibula had an uncommon form, with a very high front edge and a concave top. Its hands bore enormous, strongly recurved and pointed, claws of which the thumb claw was the largest.
Erliansaurus was by the describers assigned to the Therizinosauroidea, in a basal position and likely not a therizinosaurid. Some early cladistic analyses however, have recovered it as a basal member of the Therizinosauridae. Recent cladistic analyses have recovered it as a therizinosauroid.
- Xu, X.; Zhang, Z.-H.; Sereno, P.C.; Zhao, X.-J.; Kuang, X.-W.; Han, J.; Tan, L. (2002). "A new therizinosauroid (Dinosauria, Theropoda) from the Upper Cretaceous Iren Dabasu Formation of Nei Mongol" (PDF). Vertebrata PalAsiatica. 40: 228–240.
- Paul, G.S., 2010, The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs, Princeton University Press p. 158
- Lindsay E. Zanno (2010). "A taxonomic and phylogenetic re-evaluation of Therizinosauria (Dinosauria: Maniraptora)". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 8 (4): 503–543. doi:10.1080/14772019.2010.488045.