Goofy dinosaur blends Barney and Jar Jar Binks Nearly 50 years ago, scientists found two large powerful arm bones of a new dinosaur species in Mongolia and figured it was a fearsome critter with killer claws (AP Photo/Michael Skrepnick, Dinosaurs in Art, Nature Publishing Group)
Goofy dinosaur blends Barney and Jar Jar Binks
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Nearly 50 years ago, scientists found bones of two large, powerful dinosaur arms in Mongolia and figured they had discovered a fearsome critter with killer claws.

Now scientists have found the rest of the dinosaur and have new descriptions for it: goofy and weird.

The beast probably lumbered along on two legs like a cross between TV dinosaur Barney and Jar Jar Binks of Star Wars fame. 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 feathers here and there, and no teeth and try not to snicker.

And if that's not enough, it ate like a giant vacuum cleaner.

That's Deinocheirus mirificus (pronounced DY-noh-KY-ruhs mur-IHF-ee-kuhs), which means "terrible hands that look peculiar." It is newly reimagined after a full skeleton was found in Mongolia and described in a paper released by the journal Nature. Some 70 million years old, it's an ancestral relative of the modern ostrich and belongs to the dinosaur family often called ostrich dinosaurs.

"Deinocheirus turned out to be one the weirdest dinosaurs beyond our imagination," study lead author Yuong-Nam Lee, director of the Geological Museum in Daejeon, South Korea, said in an email.

When scientists in 1965 found the first forearm bones nearly 8 feet long many of them envisioned "a creature that would strike terror in people," said University of Maryland dinosaur expert Thomas Holtz Jr, who wasn't part of the study. "Now it's a creature that would strike bemusement, amazement."

And yes, he said, "it's pretty goofy."

The find is tremendous but is a cautionary tale about jumping to conclusions without enough evidence, said University of Chicago dinosaur expert Paul Sereno, who also wasn't part of the discovery. It reminds us that evolution isn't always what we think, he said.

"This is evolution in a dinosaur not a mammal world," Sereno said in email. "The starting point is a two-legged animal looking somewhat like a fuzzy-feathered ostrich. Now you want to get really big and eat lots of soft vegetation. In the end you look like a goofy Michelin ostrich with fuzz and a tail not a cow."

Lee figures the tilted wide hips and massive feet show that Deinocheirus was a slow mover and probably grew so big to escape being feasted on by bigger dinosaurs.

It had a beak that could eat plants, but it also had a massive tongue that created suction for vacuuming up food from the bottoms of streams, lakes and ponds, Lee wrote.

Originally Lee's team couldn't find the dinosaur's skull, but a tip from another researcher led them to recover it from the private market in Germany.

Some kids will soon adopt this dinosaur as their favorite, Holtz said, "and those are kids with a sense of humor."

Critical thinking challenge: What changed scientists first ideas about the dinosaur?

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COMMENTS (17)
  • jarredc-Koc
    10/28/2014 - 04:45 p.m.

    Dinosaurs come inn all shapes and sizes. It's the bahavior of them that we seek to piece together. Even then, however, new evidence could always disprove our theories. That is one of the reasons why we make sure we have all the facts. While it isnt a Jurassic Park carnivore, it is still a unique creature.

  • jacobd-Man
    10/29/2014 - 01:06 p.m.

    Its amazing that this dinosaur bones were found nearly 50 years ago it surprises me that the discoverer didn't know what it was back when he found the bone.

  • RM00charlie
    10/30/2014 - 01:02 p.m.

    at first when they found the 8 foot long forearms they thought it was really something scary but when they found the rest od the dinosaur and put it together they saw that it was more funny then scary looking.

  • PJuan-Sti
    10/30/2014 - 05:34 p.m.

    This is weird looking dinosaur it re mimes me of a kangaroo. Thats wierd that they said it ate like a giant vacuum cleaner.

  • SDomanic-Sti
    10/31/2014 - 10:17 a.m.

    thats cool but jar jar is from star wars not earth. i like star wars alot but not no more but my brother does alot.

  • MFrancisco-Sti
    10/31/2014 - 10:23 a.m.

    I can't believe that they found a dinosaur that big sad powerful. The arms were like 8 feet and it was 16 feet tall. I can't believe that it weight 7 tons how much many people do you need to weight that much.

  • dringgold-Cla
    10/31/2014 - 11:45 a.m.

    that's hard but it will be crazy because it killer claws its 8 feet. I will never adopt this dinosaur because it mate eat me

  • hshelly-Cla
    10/31/2014 - 11:52 a.m.

    This dinosaur is amazing! I hope to one day find a dinosaur. If I did end up finding a dinosaur, I would hope it is cooler than this one, or any other Dino's out there.

  • aknight-Cla
    10/31/2014 - 12:01 p.m.

    this is the funniest thing ive seen all day because its really true and its just funny please make us do this again oh my god

  • ttravillion-Cla
    10/31/2014 - 12:04 p.m.

    The dinosaur looks very weird and its kinda cool and weird because of the fact that it eats like a vacuum cleaner. I also think its really cool though

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