Fun Xixianykus Facts For Kids

Shivangi Pandey
Nov 29, 2022 By Shivangi Pandey
Originally Published on Sep 25, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Xixianykus facts such as it had feathers.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.3 Min

The species' fossil remains were discovered for the first time in China, in Henan Province, Xixia County (Majiacun Formation). Dinosauria is the categorization for this insectivore species. X. Xu, F.-L. Han, C. Sullivan, F.-M. Du, D.-Y. Wang, R.-H. Yan, and, D. W. E. Hone named the species and described it as Xixianykus zhangi. Although its skeleton was not as well preserved as Linheraptor's, enough of it was recovered to identify it as a new kind of alvarezaurid. Furthermore, the new research classified it as a parvicursorine or a specialized subgroup of alvarezaurids that may have fed on ants and termites. While these dinosaur's legs were well-adapted to running, their short and stout front limbs would have been used to rip open insect nests, and the authors of the paper speculate that it may have been like modern-day anteaters, moving between different nests every day to get enough food without wiping out the colonies on which it depended. More skeletal remains will be needed to corroborate this theory. Its near relatives were like, it is plausible to infer that it had the same characteristics associated with an ant and termite diet.

For more relatable content, check out these Hesperonychus facts and Amygdalodon fun facts for kids.

Xixianykus Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce 'Xixianykus'?

It is pronounced as 'Shi-she-ann-ih-kuss'.

What type of dinosaur was a Xixianykus?

It was an alvarezsaurid theropod, according to the journal Zootaxa. This was a strange species of feathered dinosaur with ostrich-like bodies and stubby limbs topped with massive claws. X. Xu, D.-Y. Wang, C. Sullivan, D. W. E. Hone, F.-L. Han, R.-H. Yan, and F.-M. Du were the first to identify the species and describe it as Xixianykus zhangi.

In which geological period did the Xixianykus roam the earth?

It existed in Asia during the upper Cretaceous era. Its fossils have been discovered in areas like Hubei (China). This period was a geological epoch that spanned around 66-145 million years ago (Mya). It is the Mesozoic era's third and last phase, as well as its longest. It is the longest geological epoch in the Phanerozoic, lasting almost 80 million years.

When did the Xixianykus become extinct?

The time during which it lived was defined as the time phase between 145.5-65.5 million years ago. It existed from the Coniacian Age to Santonian Age.

Where did a Xixianykus live?

The specimen is from Xixia County in Henan Province, China, where a high number of dinosaur egg fossils have been discovered, accounting for half of the total in China and one-third of the total worldwide, although dinosaur's fossil discoveries are uncommon.

What was a Xixianykus' habitat?

It had to be an extraordinarily quick runner, chasing after tiny, fast creatures while avoiding being devoured by larger theropods. It is also one of the earliest of genus alvarezsaurs found, suggesting that this feathered dinosaur began in Asia (Xixia county) and migrated west. The epoch had a relatively mild climate, which resulted in high eustatic sea levels and numerous shallow inland seas. These oceans and seas were home to now-extinct marine reptiles, ammonites, and rudists, while dinosaurs ruled the land.

Who did a Xixianykus live with?

It is one of the most recent alvarezsaurs, a group of feathered dinosaur-birds that existed in Eurasia and the Americas throughout the middle to late Cretaceous eras, with Alvarezsaurus serving as the group's poster genus. Large herds of herbivorous ornithischians, such as Iguanodon, Ankylosaurus, and the ceratopsians, also flourished during the period. Tyrannosaurus rex and other theropods were apex predators until the end of the Cretaceous period.

How long did a Xixianykus live?

It lived from the Coniacian through the Santonian periods.

How did they reproduce?

All dinosaurs, like extant crocodylians and birds, were oviparous, or egg-laying. There are several good specimens of fossilized egg fossils and nests available for research. Dinosaur's produced hard-shelled eggs similar to birds rather than soft-shelled eggs like crocodylians and other reptiles. The egg's hard shell formed when it traveled through the mother's oviduct, where glands produced a calcareous protective covering—the calcium-rich outer shell. Nests preserved reveal that they lay a huge number of eggs on the ground. It is usual to find between 15-25 egg remains in an undamaged nest; some ancient dinosaur nests had more than 40 egg remains.

Xixianykus Fun Facts

What did a Xixianykus look like?

Matt van Rooijen reconstructed dinosaur Xixianykus was a small-sized feathered dinosaur.

Xixianykus facts are interesting.
*We've been unable to source an image of Xixianykus and have used a sketch of a herbivorous dinosaur instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of Xixianykus, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at

How many bones did a Xixianykus have?

The fossil, holotype XMDFEC V0011, was discovered in Henan Province, China, in the Majiacun Formation. The fossil is a partial skeleton missing the skull. Parts of the hind legs, pelvis, and spine have been recovered as well.

How did they communicate?

Dinosaurs most likely communicated visually as well as verbally. Defensive posture, courting activity, and territorial conflicts were most likely accompanied by both verbal and visual displays. Hoots and hollers, cracking noises, dancing and song, and even symbolic love cries performed with colorful plumage were probably part of such exchanges. Clues from the fossil record and contemporary species linked to the ancient creatures, such as birds and crocodiles, suggest how the ancient creatures may have communicated.

How big was a Xixianykus?

It is one of the tiniest dinosaur known. The tiny animal's fossil , known as Xixianykus zhangi, is very fragmentary (partial) but would have been around half a meter long. It was around 19.68 in (50 cm) long but had legs that were 7.9 in (20 cm) long and had a small femur coupled with a long tibia and metatarsus, all of which indicate that it was a quick runner.

How fast could a Xixianykus move?

This 'road-runner' from the Late Cretaceous has a lot of adaptations for quick, efficient movement. Most notably, the upper leg (the femur or thigh bone) is noticeably shorter than the lower leg and foot; a pattern observed in many modern sprinting mammals. As it raced over archaic terrain, other characteristics of the hind leg, pelvis, and backbone would have aided stability and minimized unnecessary energy-wasting motions.

How much did a Xixianykus weigh?

It would have weighted a few ponds.

What were the male and female names of the species?

It is famously difficult to distinguish males from females of prehistoric organisms known solely through the fossil, such as dinosaurs because sex differences are rarely evident from the bones.

What would you call a baby Xixianykus?

Dinosaurs hatch from eggs, therefore new young dinosaurs are referred to as hatchlings, as are their reptile counterparts the turtles and crocodiles.

What did they eat?

Furthermore, the new research classified it as a parvicursorine or a specialized subgroup of alvarezaurids that may have fed on ants and termites.

How aggressive were they?

They were very small but could have been aggressive.

Did you know...

The genus name alludes to Xixia County as well as the Greek term for claw. The latter is a frequent element in Alvarezsaurid names. The dino is named after Zhang Xinglao.

Was the Xixianykus the smallest dinosaur?

The tiny dinosaur, nicknamed a 'roadrunner' by the researchers who discovered it, is also one of the tiniest dinosaurs ever discovered. It was a tiny mammal, around 20 in (50.8 cm) long and 7.9 in (20 cm) tall. It appears to have several adaptations to a cursorial (running) lifestyle.

How are they similar to animals now?

The hind legs, or femur or thigh bone, of the tiny theropod, is noticeably shorter than the lower leg and foot. Many running animals now exhibit a similar pattern.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable facts, check out these Kelmayisaurus fun facts, or Linheraptor facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Xixianykus coloring pages.

*We've been unable to source an image of Xixianykus and have used an image of Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of Xixianykus, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at

Xixianykus Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Small animals

what Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


What Did They Look Like?

Small size and unusually long legs

How Much Did They Weigh?


Skin Type


How Long Were They?

19.68 in (50 cm)

How Tall Were They?










Scientific Name

Xixianykus zhangi

What Were Their Main Threats?

Natural disasters

What Habitat Did They Live In?


Where Did They Live?

Eastern Asia
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Written by Shivangi Pandey

Bachelor of Fashion Technology specializing in Fashion Merchandising

Shivangi Pandey picture

Shivangi PandeyBachelor of Fashion Technology specializing in Fashion Merchandising

Shivangi is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Fashion Technology from the National Institute of Fashion Technology. She has a strong passion for the English language and communication, with a keen interest in fashion blogging. Shivangi's educational background and interests complement her ability to create engaging and informative content for readers.

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