Goofy dinosaur blends Barney and Jar Jar Binks
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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  • MatthewL-Cal
    10/28/2014 - 08:47 p.m.

    Wow, that's creative. Ostrich dinosaurs. I wonder who came up with that. OH NO, the world going to end, a smart person said " goofy"! OH NO! From the description of the dinosaur, it probably wasn't the most hansom dinosaur though.

  • BenB10
    10/28/2014 - 09:05 p.m.

    A goofy dinosaur named Deinocheirus mirificus ( DY-noh-KY-ruhs mur-IHF-ee-kuhs) is discovered. This new dinosaurs first bones were found in 1965, which lead scientists to believe it was a predator. Recently found bones reveal this beast was a funny looking beast that looked Jar Jar Binks. This is a strange looking dinosaur that's a distant ancestor of the ostrich. this is a good example of why you don't judge a book by its cover.

  • John0724-YYCA
    10/28/2014 - 09:07 p.m.

    That dinosaur is really weird and this dinosaur looks nothing like Barney but it exactly looks like Jar Jar Binks. This dinosaur doesn't look like a dinosaur or anything cool, it just looks like a comedian's costumes. But I think kids aren't going to think this as a dinosaur because it just looks like a weird retard. I think it was hard for the scientist to figure out that the Deinocheirus mirificus was a dinosaur.

  • spencer98584
    10/29/2014 - 12:50 p.m.

    The Deinocheirus actually does look like Jar Jar Binks. My guess is it is a herbivore because the article said it ate plants. Why is this article coming out 50 years after the bones were found?

  • dp2001blue
    10/29/2014 - 01:01 p.m.

    wow that looks like jar jar binks the similarities are perfect instead of the dinosaur body but every thing else amazing and it is oustounding

  • Hailey2002
    10/29/2014 - 01:02 p.m.

    Ha ha ha ha, this is really funny and actually quite astonishing. This would be my kind of animal, but unfortunately I can't pronounce this guy's name.

  • Cs2001Tardis
    10/29/2014 - 01:08 p.m.

    The thing that changed scientists' first ideas about this dinosaur is the full skeleton of the dinosaur, not just the hands. This dinosaur is kind of cool. It is different then all the dinosaurs so far, and it is pretty goofy.

  • FirePuppy
    10/29/2014 - 01:31 p.m.

    Their right, it does look like a mix between Jar Jar and Barney. That, I can safely say, is the weirdest looking dinosaur I have ever seen. Also, what is up with the hair on that things head? Just be glad you don't have to see it in person.

  • thunderphoenix117
    10/29/2014 - 01:31 p.m.

    It's facial expression does look like Jar Jar Binks, but I think the only similarity between it and Barney is that they both walk on two legs. I think it started to evolve more towards a bird than a reptile.

  • Karena-OBr
    10/29/2014 - 01:51 p.m.

    When the scientists found two large bones of the dinosaur, they thought it was a fearsome critter with killer claws. When they found the rest of the bones, they discovered that the dinosaur was big and it looked goofy. They saw that the dinosaur has a beak that could eat plants and has a massive tongue. The dinosaur was a slow mover, but it was big, so it was able to escape from other big dinosaurs. I think this dinosaur was pretty big and strong.

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