|Named By:||X. Xu, J. M. Clark, J. Mo, J. Choiniere, C. A. Forster, G. M. Erickson, D. W. E. Hone, C. Sullivan, D. A. Eberth, S. Nesbitt, Q. Zhao, R. Hernandez, C.inK Jia, F.inL. Han, & Y. Guo in 2009|
|Time Period:||Oxfordian, 161-156 Ma|
|Location:||China, Junggar Basin - Shishugou Formation|
|Size:||Around 1.7 meters long|
|Fossil(s):||Almost complete articulated remains from two sub adults|
|Classification:||| Chordata | Reptilia | Dinosauria | Saurischia | Theropoda | Ceratosauria ||
Limusaurus (meaning "mud lizard") is a genus of theropod dinosaur from the Jurassic (Oxfordian stage) Upper Shishugou Formation in the Junggar Basin of western China. The genus contains a single species, L. inextricabilis. Limusaurus was a small, slender animal, about 1.7 metres (5 ft 7 in) in length, that had a long neck and legs but also highly reduced forelimbs. It underwent a drastic morphological transformation as it aged; while juveniles were toothed, these teeth were completely lost and replaced by a beak with age, corresponding to a shift in diet from omnivory to herbivory.
Limusaurus is the first definitively known ceratosaur from Eastern Asia; while originally considered to be the most basal members (i.e. phylogenetically closest to the origin) of the group Ceratosauria along with its closest relative, Elaphrosaurus, a 2016 analysis showed that they are in fact members of the Noasauridae, a group of similarly small and lightly-built abelisaurs. The pattern of digit reduction in Limusaurus has been used to support the contested hypothesis that the three-fingered hand of tetanuran theropods is the result of the loss of the first and fifth digits from the ancestral five-fingered theropod hand, which has implications for the evolution of birds. However, it is now considered to be irrelevant to the subject of digit homology.