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. They call it goofy and weird.

The beast probably lumbered along on two legs. It was like a cross between TV dinosaur Barney and Jar Jar Binks of Star Wars fame. It was 16 feet tall and 36 feet long. It weighed 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, the dinosaur is an ancestral relative of the modern ostrich. It 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. That's according to University of Chicago dinosaur expert Paul Sereno. He 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. It probably grew so big to escape from being eaten 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 (70)
  • TrevorGGreen
    10/28/2014 - 12:00 p.m.

    They were pretty witty to think that this dinosaur looked like jar jar binks and barney the dinosaur. I like that in a post. also the dinosaur is funny.

  • JackR-5
    10/28/2014 - 12:19 p.m.

    A new dinosaur was discovered recently. It looks like a mix between a Barney and Jar Jar Binks. Scientist describe this dinosaur as goofy and friends weird. This dinosaur eats like a vacuum. It weighed 7 tons. This odd dinosaur walks on two legs. It was very slow and was just discovered recently. Scientists have discovered a piece of the start of short about 50 years ago but they thought it was fierce. Now scientists think that the dinosaur was weak and not fierce.I think it's odd that dinosaurs still haven't been discovered. It seems like there is a dinosaur discoveries almost every week. This dinosaur is especially odd.

  • ma2000dragonball
    10/28/2014 - 01:11 p.m.

    The thing that changed their mind about it was that they made a discovery and a good one at that too.
    They realized that finding two bones based on fictional characters was pretty amazing, and so they gave it to mankind

  • wpapril30
    10/28/2014 - 01:13 p.m.

    scientist think it look goofy and weird .but after that the dinosaur looked similar than the dinosaur name Mongolia that seemed weird and it fearsome claw.

  • LiamWheaton
    10/28/2014 - 02:31 p.m.

    I can see how its Jar Jar Binks . But how is it Barney? This is a pretty cool article if you haven't read it already you should.

  • chuchengwei
    10/28/2014 - 02:36 p.m.

    I think is the dinosaur bone was very huge and strong. the story was very good i like the part take about how long is the bone and how tall is the bone.

  • koichei-Win
    10/28/2014 - 03:38 p.m.

    When I studied dinosaurs, I read about this Dino (before they discovered the rest of the body) scientist thought this dinosaur had scales and ate fish and small mammals. Also, they thought it was 20 feet tall and weigh as much as a 2-story house! And they thought the head looked like a Baronyx, a blend with T-rex and a Velociraptor,(a small dinosaur).

  • sabreena2276
    10/28/2014 - 03:51 p.m.

    I LIKE IT A LOT!!!!!!! IT GOOD AND FUNNY.. One of my favorite stories of all time! very funny i mean hilarious hahaha. i had a good time reading this article they should have more like it. I would read every one!!!!!

  • evanisawesomelol
    10/28/2014 - 05:57 p.m.

    This animal is crazy. Finding new species of Dinosaurs and other animals is always fascinating. Its related to an ostrich in which i could see, its tall and looks fast. If one of these were in are world today i would probably avoid it, it would eat me.

  • JakeA-Cal
    10/28/2014 - 07:15 p.m.

    Wow this is cool. I don't understand why the skull is in Germany though. I love Jar Jar but not barney and this is now my favorite dinosaur.

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