Tiaojishan Formation

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Tiaojishan Formation
Stratigraphic range: Bathonian-Oxfordian
~165–153  Ma
Type Geological formation
Sub-unitsDaohugou bed
Underlies Tuchengzi Formation, Houcheng Formation
Overlies Haifanggou Formation
Thickness2,420 m (7,940 ft)
Primary Andesite
Other Sandstone, shale, tuff, coal
Coordinates 41°18′N119°12′E / 41.3°N 119.2°E / 41.3; 119.2 Coordinates: 41°18′N119°12′E / 41.3°N 119.2°E / 41.3; 119.2
Approximate paleocoordinates 43°00′N123°06′E / 43.0°N 123.1°E / 43.0; 123.1
Region Hebei, Inner Mongolia, & Liaoning
CountryFlag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China
Extent Yanshan Belt
China edcp relief location map.jpg
Blue pog.svg
Tiaojishan Formation (China)

The Tiaojishan Formation is a geological formation in Hebei and Liaoning, People's Republic of China, dating to the middle-late Jurassic period (Bathonian-Oxfordian stages). It is known for its fossil plants, and is made up mainly of pyroclastic rock interspersed with basic volcanic and sedimentary rocks. Previously, the Tiaojishan Formation was grouped together with the underlying Haifanggou Formation (also known as the Jiulongshan Formation) as a single "Lanqi Formation." [1] Most researchers now agree that the Daohugou Bed, of formerly controversial dating, is a part of the Tiaojishan formation. [2]



The geology of the Daohugou Bed is confusing because it is complex and does not conform; meaning that elements and layers of rock of different ages are mixed up together by folding and erosion and by volcanic activity. Liu et al. (2006) concluded that the rocks that bear the Daohugou Biota also include the Tiaojishan and Lanqi Formations. They demonstrated that the Jiulongshan Formation is older (Middle Jurassic), and that the Tuchengzi Formation is younger (Late Jurassic). However, many other researchers consider the Daohugou to be a part of the Jiulongshan Formation itself. [3]

Fieldwork published in 2006 has also found that the beds are consistent over a large area; from western Liaoning into Ningcheng county of Inner Mongolia (Nei Mongol). [4]


Using Argon–argon dating, Wang and colleagues in 2005 dated part of the Tiaojishan Formation to about 160 million years ago, the beginning of the Oxfordian stage, the first stage of the Upper Jurassic epoch. [5] In 2006, a study by Liu and colleagues used U-Pb zircon dating to conclude that the Tiaojishan Formation correlates with the Daohugou Beds, and the complete chronological range of this shared biota dates to between 168 and 164/152 Ma ago. [6] A subsequent study, published in 2008, refined the age range of the formation further, finding that the lower boundary of the Tiaojishan was formed 165 Ma ago, and the upper boundary somewhere between 156-153 Ma ago. [7]

Daohugou bed

The age of the Daohugou bed has been debated, and a number of studies, using different methodologies, have reached conflicting conclusions. Various papers have placed the fossils here as being anywhere from the Middle Jurassic period (169 million years ago) to the Early Cretaceous period (122 ma). [8] One of the first studies on the age of the Daohugou beds, published in 2004 by He et al., found them to be Early Cretaceous, only a few million years older than the overlying Jehol beds of the Yixian Formation. [9] The 2004 study primarily used Argon–argon dating of a tuff within the Daohugou Beds to determine its age.

However, subsequent studies cast doubt on this relatively recent age. In a 2006 study, Gao & Ren criticized He et al. for not including enough specifics and detail in their paper, and also took issue with their radiometric dating of the Daohugou tuff. The tuff, Gao and Ren argued, contains crystals with a variety of diverse radiometric ages, some up to a billion years old, so using dates from only a few of these crystals could not determine the overall age of the deposits. Gao and Ren went on to defend a Middle Jurassic age for the beds based on biostratigraphy (the use of index fossils), and the bed's relationship to a layer that is known to mark the Middle Jurassic-Late Jurassic boundary. [10]

Another study, published in 2006 by Wang et al., argued that the 159-164 million years old Tiaojishan Formation underlies, rather than overlies, the Daohugou Beds. Unlike the earlier study by Gao and Ren, Wang et al. found an overall similarity between the fossil animals found in the Daohugou Beds and those from the Yixian Formation. The authors stated that

"vertebrate fossils such as Liaoxitriton, Jeholopterus and feathered maniraptorans show much resemblance to those of the Yixian Formation. In other words, despite the absence of Lycoptera, a typical fish of the Jehol Biota, the Daohugou vertebrate assemblage is closer to that of the Early Cretaceous Jehol Biota than to any other biota."

Wang et al. concluded that the Daohugou probably represents the earliest evolutionary stages of the Jehol Biota, and that it "belongs to the same cycle of volcanism and sedimentation as the Yixian Formation of the Jehol Group." [4] However, a later study by Ji et al. argued that the key indicator of the Jehol biota are the index fossils Peipiaosteus and Lycoptera. Under this definition, the earliest evolutionary stage of the Jehol Biota is represented by the Huajiying Formation, and the Daohugou Formation is excluded due to the absence of Lycoptera fossils. [11] Later in 2006, Liu et al. published their own study of the age of the Daohugou beds, this time using Zircon Uranium-lead dating on the volcanic rocks overlying and underlying salamander-bearing layers (salamanders are often used as index fossils). Liu et al. found that the beds formed between 164-158 million years ago, in the Middle to Late Jurassic. [6] [12] A 2012 study by Gao and Shubin agreed with this assessment, and reported an Argon–argon date of 164 plus or minus 4 million years ago for the Daohugou horizon. [13]


Based on the plant life present in the Tiaojishan Formation, Wang Yongdong and colleagues determined that the climate in Liaoning during the mid Jurassic would have been subtropical to temperate, warm and humid. [1]


Beautifully preserved fossils of dinosaurs, pterosaurs, salamanders, insects, arachnids [14] and other invertebrates, conifers, ginkgoes, cycads, horsetails, and ferns, and even the earliest known gliding mammal ( Volaticotherium ) and an aquatic protomammal ( Castorocauda ) have been discovered in these rocks. These organisms were part of the Daohugou Biota, which formed the local ecosystem of that Jurassic time. The tuffaceous composition of some rock layers show that this was a volcanic area, occasionally experiencing heavy ashfalls from eruptions. The landscape then was dominated by mountain streams and deep lakes surrounded by forests of gymnosperm trees. [15] Some authors[ who? ] have concluded that the Daohugou Biota is an early stage of the Jehol Biota, while recent work[ citation needed ] has demonstrated that the two are distinct.

The forests of the Daohugou biota grew in a humid, warm - temperate climate and were dominated by gymnosperm trees. There were ginkgopsids like Ginkoites, Ginkgo , Baiera, Czekanowskia, and Phoenicopsis. There were also conifers like Pityophyllum, Rhipidiocladus, Elatocladus, Schizolepis, and Podozamites. Also, Lycopsids like Lycopodites and Sellaginellities, horsetails (Sphenopsida) like Equisetum, cycads like Anomozamites, and ferns (Filicopsida) like Todites and Coniopteris. [16]


Salamanders of the Tiaojishan Formation
GenusSpeciesLocationStratigraphic positionAbundanceNotesImages


B. jianpingensis [13]


A salamandroid known from an almost complete and articulated skeleton exposed in ventral view.

Chunerpeton Chunerpeton BW.jpg


C. tianyiensis

A cryptobranchoid measuring 18 centimeters in length.


J. paradoxus

A cryptobranchoid with a strange skull morphology, at first believed to come from the Early Cretaceous.


L. daohugouensis

A little-known cryptobranchoid.


P. sinensis

A cryptobranchoid characterized by its short trunk (only 14 presacrals) and short and wide head, giving a fat body shape, from which the genus name was derived ("Pang" means fat in Chinese).


Pterosaurs of the Tiaojishan Formation
GenusSpeciesLocationStratigraphic positionAbundanceNotesImages


A. linglongtaensis [17]


A monofenestratan known from an incomplete skeleton with a partial skull and lower jaw.

Darwinopterus modularis Darwinopterus NT.jpg
Darwinopterus modularis
Jeholopterus Jeholopterus BW.jpg
Wukongopterus Wukongopterus NT.jpg


C. pani [18]


A pterodactyliform known only from a single specimen of a young juvenile, measuring 475 millimeters (18.7 inches) in wingspan.


D. delicatus [19]

Inner Mongolia

One specimen

A relatively basal pterosaur known from a partial skeleton with soft tissue impressions.


D. modularis [20]


A wukongopterid named after Charles Darwin. The type species, D. modularis was the first known pterosaur to display features of both long-tailed rhamphorhynchoids and short-tailed pterodactyloids, and was described as a transitional fossil between the two groups. Darwinopterus specimens have also been reported to show several differences between males and females, with the males having distinctive crests on their heads. They are known to have laid their eggs on the ground, and may have also not shown that much for parental care.

D. linglongtaensis

D. robustodens


D. mutoudengensis [21]


One specimen

A batrachognathine anurognathid, originally thought to be from the Early Cretaceous, with a wingspan that is about 40 centimeters, making it one of the smallest known pterosaurs.


F. lii [22]


A scaphognathine rhamphorhynchid similar to other scaphognathines in its short, blunt skull with a large antorbital fenestra, and widely spaced, vertically oriented teeth (as opposed to the horizontally-oriented teeth of other rhamphorhynchids).


J. ninchengensis

Inner Mongolia

Several specimens [23] [24]

A batrachognathine anurognathid preserved with pycnofibres and skin remains.


J. robustus [25]


A scaphognathine rhamphorhynchid known from a single fossil skeleton.


J. zhaoianus [26]


A scaphognathine rhamphorhynchid known from a nearly complete skeleton with the skull preserved.


K. sinensis


Daohugou bed

One almost complete specimen

A wukongopterid with an elongated head, 106.9 millimeters long.


P. wellnhoferi

Inner Mongolia

Daohugou bed

One specimen [23]

A darwinopteran with a tall crest on its head and an elongated skull 11.8 centimeters (4.65 inches) long, a long tail and a wingspan of about 85 centimeters (33.46 inches). It was originally believed to be a rhamphorhynchid. The only known specimen consists of an articulated, nearly complete skeleton with remains of the integument. These included the wing membrane, hair-like pycnofibers, a long version of the vane found at the end of "rhamphorhynchoid" tails, and a head crest with both a low bony base and a large keratin extension.


Q. guoi [27]


A rhamphorhynchine rhamphorhynchid known from only one specimen that includes a skeleton with a skull.


W. lii


Daohugou bed

One specimen [28]

A wukongopterid unusual for having both an elongate neck and a long tail. Its wingspan is estimated at 730 millimeters (29 inches).


Dinosaurs of the Tiaojishan Formation
GenusSpeciesLocationStratigraphic positionAbundanceNotesImages


A. huxleyi [29]


Several specimens [30]

An anchiornithid at first believed to be a troodont. Given the exquisite preservation of one of the first specimen's fossils, Anchiornis became the first dinosaur species for which almost the entire life coloration could be determined. Most of the body feathers of Anchiornis were gray and black. The crown of head feathers was mainly rufous with a gray base and front, and the face had rufous speckles among predominantly black head feathers. The wing and hind leg feathers were white with black tips. The coverts were gray, contrasting the mainly white main wings. The larger coverts of the wing were also white with gray or black tips, forming rows of darker dots along mid-wing. These took the form of dark stripes or even rows of dots on the outer wing (primary feather coverts) but a more uneven array of speckles on the inner wing (secondary coverts). The shanks of the legs were gray other than the long leg feathers, and the feet and toes were black. It was 13 inches long and weighed only 110 grams (3.9 ounces).

Anchiornis Anchiornis BW.jpg
Aurornis Aurornis.jpg
Caihong Caihong , life restoration.jpg
Eosinopteryx Eosinopteryx.jpg
Epidexipteryx Epidexipteryx NT.jpg
Scansoriopteryx Epidendrosaurus ningchingensis.png
Serikornis Serikornis.jpg
Tianyulong Tianyulong BW.jpg
Xiaotingia Xiaotingia .jpg
Yi Yi qi restoration.jpg


A. xui


One specimen

An anchiornithid roughly the size of a modern pheasant, with a length of 20 inches. Its leg bones were similar to those of Archaeopteryx , but overall its anatomy was more primitive.


C. juji


Yanliao Biota

One specimen

An anchiornithid known from an adult specimen measuring 400 mm in body length. Its fossilized feathers possess nanostructures which were analyzed and interpreted as melanosomes, showing similarity to organelles that produce a black iridescent color in certain species of extant birds. Other feathers found on the head, chest, and the base of the tail preserve flattened sheets of platelet-like melanosomes very similar in shape to those which create brightly colored iridescent hues in the feathers of modern hummingbirds. However, these structures are seemingly solid and lack air bubbles, and thus are internally more akin to the melanosomes in trumpeters than hummingbirds. Caihong represents the oldest known evidence of platelet-like melanosomes. It is named for the large crest on the lacrimal bone of the skull. [31]


E. brevipenna


One specimen

An anchiornithid at first believed to be a troodont, known from a single fossil specimen representing the nearly complete skeleton of a subadult or adult individual. The specimen is very small, measuring about 12 inches long.


E. hui

Inner Mongolia

Daohugou beds

One specimen

A scansoriopterygid known from a well-preserved partial skeleton, measuring 10 inches in length (17.5 inches including the incomplete tail feathers), that includes four long feathers on the tail, composed of a central rachis and vanes. However, unlike in modern-style rectrices, the vanes were not branched into individual filaments but made up of a single ribbon-like sheet. Epidexipteryx also preserved a covering of simpler body feathers, composed of parallel barbs as in more primitive feathered dinosaurs. However, the body feathers of Epidexipteryx are unique in that some appear to arise from a "membranous structure" at the base of each feather. It has been suggested that this may represent a stage in the evolution of the feather. Epidexipteryx and its kin represent the earliest known examples of ornamental feathers in the fossil record.


P. daohugouensis

Inner Mongolia

Daohugou beds

One specimen

An anchiornithid that probably measured 1 meter (3 feet) or less in length, but since this species is only known from the hind legs, the actual length is difficult to estimate. Apart from having a very birdlike skeletal structure in its legs, Pedopenna was remarkable due to the presence of long pennaceous feathers on the metatarsus (foot). Some other paravians are also known to have these 'hind wings', but those of Pedopenna differ from those of animals like Microraptor . Pedopenna hind wings were smaller and more rounded in shape. The longest feathers were slightly shorter than the metatarsus, at about 55 mm (2 in) long. Additionally, the feathers of Pedopenna were symmetrical, unlike the asymmetrical feathers of some other non-avian paravians and birds. Since asymmetrical feathers are typical of animals adapted to flying, it is likely that Pedopenna represents an early stage in the development of these structures. While many of the feather impressions in the fossil are weak, it is clear that each possessed a rachis and barbs, and while the exact number of foot feathers is uncertain, they are more numerous than in the hind-wings of Microraptor. Pedopenna also shows evidence of shorter feathers overlying the long foot feathers, evidence for the presence of coverts as seen in modern birds. Since the feathers show fewer aerodynamic adaptations than the similar hind wings of Microraptor, and appear to be less stiff, suggests that if they did have some kind of aerodynamic function, it was much weaker than in other non-avian paravians and birds.


S. heilmanni


Exact provenance of type specimen unknown, most likely from the Daohugou Beds [4]

One or two specimens

A sparrow-sized scansoriopterygid known from a juvenile specimen.


S. sungei


One specimen [32]

An anchiornithid with plumulaceous-like feathers. Feather imprints include wispy bundles along the neck, short and symmetrical vaned feathers on the arms, and both fuzz and long pennaceous feathers on its hind limbs (bearing a striking resemblance of the delicate hind limb filaments to the modern Silkie breed of domestic chicken. While its anatomy and integument share features with birds as well as derived dromaeosaurs such as Microraptor, cladistic analysis places the genus within the cluster of feathered non-avian dinosaurs near the origin of avialans. It was unlikely to be a flier.


T. confuciusi


A heterodontosaur that was initially reported as being from the Early Cretaceous Jehol group. The fossil was collected at a locality transliterated as Linglengta or Linglongta. Lu et al., 2010, reported that these beds were actually part of the Tiaojishan Formation, dating from the Late Jurassic period. Tianyulong has a row of long, filamentous integumentary structures on the back, tail and neck of the specimen, similar to the feathers found in certain theropods (this suggests that all heterodontosaurs may have had these filaments). The holotype is from a subadult individual that probably measured 70 centimeters in length based on the proportions of the related Southern African species Heterodontosaurus .


X. zhengi [33]


One specimen

An anchiornithid originally thought to be either a dromaeosaur or a troodont.


Y. qi [34]


Daohugou beds

One specimen

A gliding scansoriopterygid, weighing about 380 grams (0.84 pounds), that, like other scansoriopterygids, possessed an unusual, elongated third finger, that (in the case of Yi) helped to support a membranous gliding plane made of skin. The planes of Yi were also supported by a long, bony strut attached to the wrist. This modified wrist bone and membrane-based plane is unique among all known dinosaurs, and might have resulted in wings similar in appearance to those of bats. This also leads to the hypothesis that the other two genera of scansoriopterygids also had gliding membranes, but this is yet to be proven official.


Color key
Taxon Reclassified taxonTaxon falsely reported as presentDubious taxon or junior synonym Ichnotaxon Ootaxon Morphotaxon
Uncertain or tentative taxa are in small text; crossed out taxa are discredited.
Lepidosaurs (lizards and relatives) of the Daohugou Beds

Unnamed lizard [35]

Inner Mongolia

One specimen

A new lizard with relatively short forelimbs

Unnamed lizard [35]

Inner Mongolia

One specimen

A lizard with long hind limbs and a narrow body


Cynodonts of the Tiaojishan Formation
GenusSpeciesLocationStratigraphic positionAbundanceNotesImages


A. scansorius

Inner Mongolia

Daohugou bed

A shrew-sized, arboreal docodontid that is known to be one of the earliest tree-climbing mammaliaforms. [36] It measured approximately 13 centimeters from head to tail and weighed about 27 grams. Its appearance was similar to a squirrel, with a long snout, curved, horny claws and flexible ankle and wrist joints typical of modern arboreal mammals. The front teeth were spade-like, indicating that Agilodocodon could gnaw tree bark and consume gum or sap.

Castorocauda Castorocauda BW.jpg
Docofossor Docofossor NT.jpg
Juramaia Juramaia NT.jpg
Volaticotherium Volaticotherium.jpg


A. jenkinsi


One specimen

An arboreal, prehensile-tailed euharamiyid haramiyidan that was the largest known haramiyidan, estimated to have weighed about 354 grams. [37] Arboroharamiya is unlike any modern mammal in having a lower jaw that can move up, down, and backward, but not forward. It has a rodent-like dentition with enlarged incisors and molars and no canines.


C. lutrasimilis

Inner Mongolia

Daohugou bed

One specimen [38]

A semiaquatic docodontid that was highly specialized, with adaptations evolved convergently with those of modern semiaquatic mammals such as beavers, otters, and platypuses. The animal probably weighed about 500-800 grams (1 pound to nearly 2 pounds) and grew to at least 42.5 centimeters (17 inches) in length. This makes it the largest mammaliaform (including true mammals) of the Jurassic (the previous record holder being Sinoconodon ).


D. brachydactylus


One specimen [39]

A docodontid specialized for a subterranean burrowing lifestyle. The skeletal structure and body proportions are strikingly similar to the golden mole. It was at least 9 centimeters long, exempting the tail, and weighed at least 9 grams, or perhaps 16 grams.


J. sinensis [40]


One specimen

A small, shrew-like eutherian with a body length approximately 70-100 millimeters. The discovery of Juramaia provides new insight into the evolution of placental mammals by showing that their lineage diverged from that of the metatheres 35 million years earlier than previously thought. Furthermore, its discovery fills gaps in the fossil record and helps to calibrate modern, DNA-based methods of dating the evolution. Based on climbing adaptations found in the forelimb bones, it has been suggested that the basal stock of eutherians was arboreal.

Maiopatagium M. furculiferumA gliding euharamiyidan


M. mammaliaformis

Inner Mongolia

Daohugou bed

One specimen

An eleutherodontid haramiyidan thought to have been a herbivore that lived on the ground, having a similar posture to modern-day armadillos and rock hyraxes. [2] Megaconus is estimated to have weighed about 250 grams (8.8 ounces).

Microdocodon M. gracilisDaohugou bedA tegotheriid docodontan known from a specimen with a preserved hyoid bone, which is almost unknown in the early mammal fossil record.
Qishou Q. jizantang Euharamiyida


R. eurasiaticus


Daxishan site

One specimen

An omnivorous paulchoffatoid multituberculate that is the oldest so far described in the multituberculates. It strongly resembled a small rodent (like a rat or a chipmunk). [41] It is estimated to have weighed between 65-80 grams, about that of an average chipmunk.


V. antiquum

Inner Mongolia

Daohugou bed

One specimen

A gliding, flying squirrel-like volaticotherian eutriconodont with a specialized gliding membrane. The teeth of Volaticotherium were highly specialized for eating insects, and its limbs were adapted to living in trees. The gliding membrane was insulated by a thick covering of fur, and was supported by the limbs as well as the tail. The discovery of Volaticotherium provided the earliest-known record of a gliding mammal, and provided further evidence of mammalian diversity during the Mesozoic Era.

Vilevolodon V. diplomylosA gliding eleutherodontid haramiyidan with a herbivorous diet.

Arthropods (excluding crustaceans)

The following orders are represented in the formation; Ephemeroptera, Odonata, Plecoptera, Blattodea, Orthoptera, Hemiptera, Neuroptera, Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, and Diptera.

Color key
Taxon Reclassified taxonTaxon falsely reported as presentDubious taxon or junior synonym Ichnotaxon Ootaxon Morphotaxon
Uncertain or tentative taxa are in small text; crossed out taxa are discredited.
Arthropods of the Daohugou Beds


A. neimengguensis [42]

Inner Mongolia

A tangle-veined fly


A. striatus [43]

Archisargid flies

A. zhangi [44]

Inner Mongolia


A. spurivenius [43]

Archisargid flies

A. strigatus [43]


C. (Calosargus) antiquus [43]

Archisargid flies

C. (C.) bellus [43]

C. (C.) daohugouensis [43]

C. (C.) hani [43]

C. (C.) tenuicellulatus [43]

C. (C.) validus [43]

C. (Pterosargus) sinicus [43]

Inner Mongolia


D. vulcanica [43]

A water boatman


F. gregarious [43]

A mayfly


E. gertschi [45]

1 Specimen

A plectreurid spider


H. liui [46]

A schizophorid flying water beetle


J. orientalis [43]

Inner Mongolia

A Nemestrinoid fly


M. explanatus [46]

Schizophorid flying water beetles

M. oxycerus [46]

M. grammicus [46]


M. daohugouensis [43]

An archisargid fly


M. portentosus [43]

Inner Mongolia

Archisargid flies

M. signatus [43]

Inner Mongolia


M. jurassica [3]

2 Specimens

An araneomorph spider originally thought to be a species of golden silk orb-weaver. From a female specimen, the carapace is 9.31 by 6.83 millimeters (0.367 by 0.269 in) and the opisthosoma is 15.36 by 9.5 millimeters (0.605 by 0.374 in). The total body length is approximately 24.6 millimeters (0.97 in) while the front legs reach about 56.5 millimeters (2.22 in) in length. A male specimen has a body length of 16.54 millimeters (0.651 in) with elongated pedipalps.


S. lacustris [43]

A mayfly


S. darani [46]

A schizophorid flying water beetle

Other invertebrates

An indeterminate aeschnoid (insect) species is known from Liaoning. [29]

GenusSpeciesProvinceStratigraphic PositionAbundanceNotes


D. impudica [29]


An ostracod

D. magna [29]


An ostracod

D. sarytirmenensis [29]


An ostracod


S. cliovata [29]


A bivalve


Survey based on Wang et al. 2006 unless otherwise noted. [1]


Cycad-like plants, the most abundant plant group in the formation. 27 species in 11 genera.

Bennettitales of the Tiaojishan Formation
GenusSpeciesLocationStratigraphic positionAbundanceNotesImages












Prehistoric ginkgo trees, common, with 11 species present in 6 genera.

Ginkoales of the Tiaojishan Formation
GenusSpeciesLocationStratigraphic positionAbundanceNotesImages







Conifers, 5 species present in 4 genera.

Pinophytans of the Tiaojishan Formation
GenusSpeciesLocationStratigraphic positionAbundanceNotesImages







Leptosporangiate ferns, represented by 17 species in 8 genera, are the second most abundant plant type in the formation.

Pteridophytans of the Tiaojishan Formation
GenusSpeciesLocationStratigraphic positionAbundanceNotesImages

Cladophlebis spp.



Dicksoniaceae Tree ferns.


D. changeyingziensis

Dicksoniaceae Tree ferns.

D. charielsa


Dicksoniaceae Tree ferns.


H. shebudaiensis


A dipterid fern.


M. hoerenensis


A marattiopsid fern.


R. stricta

A fern.


T. denticulata

"Flowering ferns."

T. williamsonii

"Flowering ferns."

Other plants

Cycads, fairly diverse, with 10 species present in 2 genera.

Cycads of the Tiaojishan Formation
GenusSpeciesLocationStratigraphic positionAbundanceNotesImages










H. shebudaiensis


A bryophyte.

Taeniopteris sp.


Related Research Articles


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The Jehol Biota includes all the living organisms – the ecosystem – of northeastern China between 133 and 120 million years ago. This is the Lower Cretaceous ecosystem which left fossils in the Yixian Formation and Jiufotang Formation. These deposits are composed of layers of tephra and sediment. It is also believed to have left fossils in the Sinuiju series of North Korea. The ecosystem in the Lower Cretaceous was dominated by wetlands and numerous lakes. Rainfall was seasonal, alternating between semiarid and mesic conditions. The climate was temperate. The Jehol ecosystem was interrupted periodically by ash eruptions from volcanoes to the west. The word "Jehol" is a historical transcription of the former Rehe Province.

Jiufotang Formation

The Jiufotang Formation is an Early Cretaceous geological formation in Chaoyang, Liaoning which has yielded fossils of feathered dinosaurs, primitive birds, pterosaurs, and other organisms. It is a member of the Jehol group. The exact age of the Jiufotang has been debated for years, with estimates ranging from the Late Jurassic to the Early Cretaceous. He et al. (2004) used argon - isotope radiometry to confirm biostratigraphic age estimates. They confirmed an Early Cretaceous, Aptian age for the Jiufotang Formation, 120.3 +/-0.7 million years ago. Fossils of Microraptor and Jeholornis are from the Jiufotang.

Tuchengzi Formation

The Tuchengzi Formation is a geological formation in China whose strata span the Tithonian to Berriasian ages. Dinosaur fossils, particularly footprints, have been found from the formation.

Jeholotriton is a genus of primitive salamander from the Daohugou Beds near Daohugou village of Inner Mongolia, China.

Paleobiota of the Yixian Formation

The Yixian Formation is a geological formation in Jinzhou, Liaoning, People's Republic of China, that spans about 5 million years during the early Cretaceous period. It is known for its fossils, listed below.


Darwinopterus is a genus of pterosaur, discovered in China and named after biologist Charles Darwin. Between 30 and 40 fossil specimens have been identified, all collected from the Tiaojishan Formation, which dates to the middle Jurassic period, 160.89–160.25 Ma ago. The type species, D. modularis, was described in February 2010. D. modularis was the first known pterosaur to display features of both long-tailed ('rhamphorhynchoid') and short-tailed (pterodactyloid) pterosaurs, and was described as a transitional fossil between the two groups. Two additional species, D. linglongtaensis and D. robustodens, were described from the same fossil beds in December 2010 and June 2011, respectively.

Haifanggou Formation

The Haifanggou Formation is a fossil-bearing rock deposit located near Daohugou village of Ningcheng County, in Inner Mongolia, northeastern China.

Archaeoistiodactylus is an extinct genus of pterosaur from the Middle Jurassic of China.

Daohugoupterus is a genus of pterosaur from the Middle to Late Jurassic Daohugou Beds of the Tiaojishan Formation in Inner Mongolia, China.


Liaodactylus is a genus of filter-feeding ctenochasmatid pterosaur from the Jurassic of China. The genus contains one species, L. primus, described by Zhou et al. in 2017. As an adaptation to filter-feeding, Liaodactylus had approximately 150 long, comb-like teeth packed closely together. It is both the earliest known ctenochasmatid and the first filter-feeding pterosaur from the Jurassic Tiaojishan Formation. Later and more specialized ctenochasmatids differ from Liaodactylus in having longer snouts, smaller openings in the skull, and more teeth. Within the Ctenochasmatidae, Liaodactylus was most closely related to the European Ctenochasma.


Anchiornithidae is a family of eumaniraptorans which could be the basalmost family of birds in the clade Avialae. Anchiornithids have been classified at varying positions in the maniraptoran tree, with some scientists classifying them as a distinct family, a basal subfamily of Troodontidae, members of Archaeopterygidae, or an assemblage of dinosaurs that are an evolutionary grade within Avialae or Paraves.

Yanliao Biota

The Yanliao Biota is the name given to an assembly of fossils preserved in northeastern China from the Middle Jurassic to Early Cretaceous. It includes fossils from the Tiaojishan Formation, Lanqi Formation, Jiulongshan Formation and Haifanggou Formation. This spans approximately 199 to 146 million years ago.


Archisargidae is an extinct family of brachyceran flies known from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. It is part of the extinct superfamily Archisargoidea. Most members of the family are known from the Callovian-Oxfordian Daohugou biota of Inner Mongolia, China, and the equivalently aged Karabastau Formation of Kazakhstan. The family has been found to be paraphyletic with respect to Eremochaetidae in a cladistic analysis.


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