Epidexipteryx is a small maniraptoran dinosaur believed to be from the middle Jurassic or upper Jurassic periods thought to have been found in China. The Epidexipteryx is a relatively recent discovery and currently only one single fossil of this elusive dinosaur has been found which is currently being held in IVPP (Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology) of China in Beijing. The Epidexipteryx holds a distinct claim to fame, being the earliest known example of fossil records showing ornamental feathers on an animal of any kind.
The full name of the Epidexipteryx, ‘Epidexipteryx hui’ literally means ‘Hu’s display feather’. The name is derived logically for the Epidexipteryx’s ornamental feathers with the addition of ‘Hu’ added in remembrance of Hu Yaoming who was a well known Chinese paleomammologist. The Chinese name for Epidexipteryx is Hushiyaolong which means ‘Hu Yaoming’s Dragon’ when translated.
The skeleton preserved in the only Epidexipteryx fossil is 25 centimeters long and including the partial preservation of the ornamental feathers reaches a total of around 44.5 centimeters, making this a fairly small species. The Epidexipteryx is closely related to avialan birds however does not have any feathers that could be used for flight suggesting that the Epidexipteryx may have evolved from flying ancestors but lost the need for flight feathers over time.
The Epidexipteryx was covered in very fine feathers and as shown in the partial skeleton discovered in the fossil it had four tail feathers which were made up for vertebrate and vanes. The skull clearly shows that the Epidexipteryx did indeed have teeth but teeth were only present on the front of its mouth, the teeth angle forwards resembling other species such as the Sapeomis and Oviraptorosaurs.