Weirdest Dinosaur Ever Discovered Solves Longstanding Mystery
Nearly 50 years ago, scientists found bones of two large, powerful dinosaur arms in Mongolia, but failed to find the rest of it. Now, researchers have finally found the missing pieces of the puzzle, solving a longstanding mystery with an unexpected twist.
It turns out these behemoth arms don't belong to some fearsome prehistoric beast, but to the weirdest dinosaur ever discovered, according to study leader Yuong-Nam Lee. Anything described as a cross between TV dinosaur Barney and Jar Jar Binx of "Star Wars" has got to be strange.
It was 16 feet tall and 36 feet long, weighing seven tons, with a duckbill on its head and a hump-like sail on its back. Throw in those killer claws, tufts of patchy feathers, and no teeth, and you have the most peculiar dinosaur ever discovered.
Not to mention it ate like a giant vacuum cleaner.
The entire picture of Deinocheirus mirificus, which literally means "terrible hands that look peculiar," was finally put together after its full skeleton was recently found in Mongolia.
The findings were described in a paper released Wednesday in the journal Nature.
With the longest forearms of any bipedal animal ever - nearly 8 feet long Deinocheirus roamed the region that is now the Gobi Desert around 70 million years ago.
When scientists in 1965 first found its monstrous arms, they envisioned "a creature that would strike terror in people," University of Maryland dinosaur expert Thomas Holtz Jr., who wasn't part of the study, told The Associated Press (AP). "Now it's a creature that would strike bemusement, amazement."
"Deinocheirus turned out to be one the weirdest dinosaurs beyond our imagination," Lee added.
Though Deinocheirus is closely related to the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex - not to mention nearly as big - it actually belongs to a subgroup of theropod dinosaurs known as ornithomimosaurs, more commonly called ostrich dinosaurs. And as their name suggests, they were omnivores, feasting on both fish and plants.
And as shown in a video created by Lee and his colleagues, Deinocheirus waddled more than they walked thanks to its wide hips, big feet and large toes. Thank goodness for its large size and freakish arms, because there's no way this dinosaur was outrunning anything, according to Stephen Brusatte, a vertebrate palaeontologist at the University of Edinburgh, UK.
"This creature wasn't built for speed," he told Nature. "That's pretty obvious."