Qiupalong henanensis was discovered in 2006, and was described in 2011 by a team of nine researchers: Li Xu, Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, Junchang Lü, Yuong-Nam Lee, Yongqing Liu, Kohei Tanaka, Xingliao Zhang, Songhai Jia, and Jiming Zhanga.
The holotype was discovered in the Qiupa Formation of an area known as the Tantou Basin in the Chinese province of Henan. Three paratypes have been described since then by Canadian paleontologists while researching a separate species (Rativates evadens), all from Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada. The three paratypes were being kept in storage in museums in Canada.
Qiupalong henanensis is an ornithomimid therapod from the Late Cretaceous, somewhere around the Campanian and Maastrichtian ages. The Canadian paratypes that have been described are a few million years older than the holotype. Ornithomimids, meaning "ostrich mimics", are smaller theropods similar in size to today's ostriches, and are considered to be omnivorous.
The holotype consists of rear limbs and partial hips. One paratype is a partial skeleton without a skull. The second paratype is an astragalocalcaneum, which is a fused ankle and heel bone discovered in 2010. The last paratype consists of what is though to be a pedal ungual (the part of a foot bone that claws are attached to). No specific size or weight estimations have been made about Qiupalong, due mostly to the lack of enough skeletal remains.
The more complete paratype was discovered in 1921, and was previously designated as a paratype of Ornithomimus altus. After the discovery of Qiupalong, this specimen was re-examined and found to be a closer match to Qiupalong, and was re-assigned.
Qiupalong henanensis was found to be a separate ornithomimid by two unique features, including a small pit where the ankle and heel bone connect, and a notch on the end of the tibia. There are two additonal features (features on the pubis and the shape of the pedal unguals) that are also found in more basal ornithomimids, showing that Quipalong sits earlier in the evolutionary line of ornithomimids.
This is the first Asian ornithomimid found outside of the Gobi Desert, and is also the first ornithomimid to be found in both Asia and North America. This implies that Qiupalong migrated from North America to Asia over the lifetime of the species across a land bridge between the two continents.
A skull has yet to be found for Qiupalong, but it is so far assumed to be omnivorous, as with other ornithomimids.
Qiupalong comes from Pinyin. "Qiupa" refers to the Qiupa Formation where the holotype was discovered. "Long" translates to "dragon", which replaces the common "saurus" in Latin dinosaur names. Henanensis is Latin, meaning "from Henan", after the province in which it was discovered.