The Sinocephale was a genus of theropod dinosaurs that lived in China during the Late Jurassic Period. The name Sinocephale means “Chinese skull” in reference to its discovery in China. It is one of the few known dinosaurs from the Upper Cretaceous period in modern day China. The Sinocephale was an important find because it helped fill a gap in our knowledge of dinosaur evolution in this part of the world.

Key Facts

Sinocephale pronunciationSai-no-see-fay-al
What does Sinocephale mean?Chinese head
Dinosaur typeOrnithopod
On the menuHerbivorous
Length2 meters (7 feet)
Height1.2 m (4 feet )
Weight450 kg  (about 900 lbs)
Life expectancyUnknown
Legs used to get aroundBipedal
Estimated top speedUnknown
When they livedUpper Cretaceous era 92 million years ago
Where they have been found?Southern China

When & Where

The fossils of the Sinocephale were discovered in China in the early 1930s during a Swedish expedition led by Gerhard Bexel. Bexel described the contents of his findings as a skullcap of the Pachycephalosaurus, the first of its kind in the region (Asia). This onset a string of research into the newly discovered specimen, and changes were made in regard to its classification and naming. In 1953, paleontologist Birger Bohlin described and named the specimen as a new species of the genus Troodon in a publication known as the 1953 Paper. By this time, the genus Troodon had been considered a Pachycephalosaur instead of a Theropod as it is today. 

In 2021, Canadian paleontologist David Evans led a research group that restudied the 1953 paper, redescribed it, and renamed the species Sinocephale.

Size & Weight

The Sinocephale was a medium-sized theropod. The only known specimen measures about 2 meters (7 feet) in length, but this may not be its full size as the skeleton is incomplete. Scientists suggest that it would have weighed around 450 kilograms (1,000 pounds). Its skull was narrow and elongated, with sharp teeth.

Mobility & Diet

The Sinocephale was a bipedal dinosaur with long legs and arms. It was probably a fast and agile runner. The Sinocephale was a herbivore, and its diet likely consisted of plants and leaves.

Interesting Points

  • When viewed from above, the Sinocephale skull appeared heart-shaped due to a prominent parietal crest (where the right and left parietal bones meet in the middle of the skull).
  • The Sinocephale is the oldest known Pachycephalosaurid genus in the world. 
  • The ornamentation at the back of the skull is made of small smooth bumps, unique among all known Pachycephalosaurids.

Featured Image Credit: Cherrysweetdeal, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons