New Fossil Research Solves The 50 Year Mystery Of The Deinocheirus

Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
After more than five decades, researchers have discovered two well-preserved specimens of a dinosaur previously known only for its eight-foot arms and hands containing three eight-inch claws, according to research published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
The arm, hands and shoulder girdle of the creature, known as the Deinocheirus mirificus (Greek for “terrible or horrible hand” and “unusual”), were recovered during the 1965 Polish-Mongolian Paleontological Expedition at Altan Uul III in the southern part of Mongolia’s Gobi Desert and detailed in the Polish Academy of Sciences monograph series Palaeontologia Polonica four years later.
Several years passed and no new fossils belonging to the creature were discovered, and as a result, paleontologists were left to speculate over what the creature actually looked like. Many believed that, due to the size of its limbs, the Deinocheirus would be a massive theropod that would be much larger than the tiny-armed Tyrannosaurus rex.
However, as Nature’s Sid Perkins explained, a newly analyzed set of bones discovered at a quarry at Bugiin Tsav in 2009 have solved the mystery, revealing that the dinosaur was 11 meters long, weighed 6.3 metric tons and had both a large belly and a humpback. It also had a skull that was more than a meter long, lacked teeth and had a keratinous beak used to eat tender vegetation.

Furthermore, the Huffington Post noted that the creature stood 16 feet tall and would most likely have had scattered tufts of feathers. The dinosaur also likely had tall dorsal spines, and used its “disproportionately large forearms” for digging, gathering plants and/or fishing, said researchers from the University of Alberta who were involved in the study.
“A deep lower jaw probably housed an immense tongue that could have helped to suck up plants from the bottoms of rivers and lakes. Stomach contents preserved in the fossils, including fish vertebrae and scales, suggest that Deinocheirus also consumed large quantities of aquatic prey,” Perkins noted. “As well as its wide hips and big feet, Deinocheirus had broad toes, which helped to prevent it from sinking into soft sediments while foraging.”
“Although the arms have been known since 1965 and have always aroused speculation because of their enormous size and sharp, recurving claws, we were completely unprepared for how strange this dinosaur looks,” said Phil Currie, professor and Canada Research Chair in Dinosaur Paleobiology at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Science. “It almost appears to be a chimera, with its ornithomimid-like arms, its tyrannosaurid-like legs, its Spinosaurus-like vertebral spines, its sauropod-like hips, and its hadrosaur-like duckbill and foot-hooves.”
The remains were discovered by a team of paleontologists led by Yuong-Nam Lee from the Korea Institute of Geoscience & Mineral Resources, and the 70 million year old fossils were recovered from sites close to where the original Deinocheirus bones were found. The newly found remains, combined with some bones that were recovered by poachers, account for approximately 95 percent of the creature’s skeleton, the study authors said.
“These new specimens really solve the mystery once and for all,” Stephen Brusatte from the University of Edinburgh told Ed Yong of National Geographic. “And they tell us Deinocheirus was much weirder than anyone could have imagined – a colossal, slow-moving, horse-headed, hump-backed dinosaur that looks like something out of a bad sci-fi movie.”
“It is amazing to see what Deinocheirus looked like in its entirety after being known from only two gigantic arms for the past 50 years,” added Darla Zelenitsky from the University of Calgary. “It’s also sad in a way. As a kid, your imagination would run wild about the nature of the beast behind those massive arms. That mystery is now gone.”
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