Ajancingenia is a genus of oviraptorid theropod dinosaurs, with one known species, Ajancingenia yanshini. Fossils have been found in several Late Cretaceous-age formations (approximately 70 million years ago) of Mongolia, most prominently in the Khermin Tsav beds of the Barun Goyot Formation. Ajancingenia is known from several specimens, which include the arms, legs, pelvis, shoulder girdle, and partial skull, and a few vertebrae. Some material referred to as Ajancingenia comes from younger formations, but the identification of some of these specimens is questionable.
Ajancingenia had a very short, deep skull with a powerful beak. The dinosaur could probably fan out the long feathers on its tail to enhance its displays.
History of discovery
Ajancingenia was first described and named by Rinchen Barsbold in 1981 and the type species is Ingenia yanshini. The name "Ingenia" derives from the Ingen Khoboor Depression of Bayankhongor Province, Mongolia, from whence it was collected, while the specific name yanshini was chosen in honour of academician Aleksandr Leonidovich Yanshin (1911–1999), who was adviser and mentor to Rinchen Barsbold during his time at the Paleontological Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The generic name Ingenia was preoccupied by the generic name of Ingenia mirabilis Gerlach, 1957, a tripyloidid nematode. Thus, an alternative generic name, Ajancingenia, was proposed by Jesse Easter in 2013. The replacement generic name is derived also from ajanc (аянч) a traveler in Mongolian, as a Western allusion of sticking one’s thumb out for hitchhiking, in reference to the first manual ungual of Ajancingenia which is twice as large as the second.
Ajancingenia yanshini belongs to the oviraptorids, as distinguished by a pubis with a forward-curving shaft (among other features), and by the unique shape of the lower jaw with a strongly S-curved jaw margin, short snout, and rounded, fused cranial bones. Some material includes paired sternal plates fused along the midline and bearing a short carina.
It is distinguished from all other oviraptorids by manual digit I subequal in length to digit II, and from all other oviraptorids except Nemegtomaia barsboldi by manual ungual I more than 100% larger than ungual II.
Reconstruction of a male displaying to a female