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)
  • RachelAnnel-OBr
    10/29/2014 - 01:52 p.m.

    The scientists thought that the dinosaur was big and scary because of how big the bones were. What changed their first impression of the dinosaur is that, at first, they only had some of the bones. They thought it was going to be big and scary, but when they got more bones, they found that the dinosaur was big, but not scary. Instead, the dinosaur looked funny. The scientists said the dinosaurs looked goofy.

    • KellerB-2
      10/30/2014 - 09:55 p.m.

      I think that this is a wonder full discovery in the field of science. But i am surprised that it took 50 years to discover this dinosaur. in this article they are discussing the fact that they found bones of a dinosaur and thought that it was 2 different dinosaurs bit 50 years later they discover that it is in fact one dinosaur.

  • SofiaB-2
    10/29/2014 - 09:41 p.m.

    This is an article about the new discovery of a "goofy" looking dinosaur that had peculiar ways of eating, moving, and defending itself. Its scientific name is Deinocheirus mirificus But has a funny translation to "terrible hands that look peculiar" which many got a kick out of. This dino ate by using its long tongue to vacuum food through its long beak like muzzle, it had a large fan looking sail on its back and was very tall and lengthy, yet it didn't move fast but grew so tall and large to attempt to slide out of dinner for another animal. We are discovering and seeing odd things every day, and this new discovery sure adds to our quest for the most peculiar and odd animals out there.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    10/30/2014 - 02:01 a.m.

    I think the dinosaur looks very funny, even in the picture at the top of the article. If Deinocheirus was alive today, it would look very large and it would be slashing at things with its claws. Even with its big size and huge claws, Deinocheirus still looks very funny. I think it does look like an ostrich but without feathers, without a long face, big claws, and without enormous size. I think the claws were also used as a defense to slash at predators to sent them away.
    Critical thinking challenge: What changed scientists first ideas about the dinosaur?
    Answer: 50 years ago, when scientists first discovered the arms, they thought it would be a very frightening dinosaur. Now, scientists have put the fossils together and they imagined what the dinosaur actually looked like.

  • StephanieS-3
    10/30/2014 - 02:48 a.m.

    This article is about geologists finding a peculiar dinosaur that looked unlike any other. The Deinocheirus is a new favorite by many children, its name meaning "terrible hands that look peculiar". It was rediscovered in Mongolia, is around 70 million years old, and comes from "ostrich dinosaurs". It had a large beak and tongue for eating vegetarian foods. This is a dinosaur rediscovered and looks like no other dinosaur out there, humoring people around the world. I think this article is funny and wondering why it is not a bigger article that everyone is talking about. This article was lighthearted and amusing.

  • matthewspires650@yahoo.com
    10/30/2014 - 01:23 p.m.

    Nearly 50 years ago, scientist found two large powerful arm bones of a new dinosaur species in Mongolia and figured it was a fearsome critter with killer claws. No scientists have found the rest of the dinosaur and have new descriptions for it.They call it goofy and weird.

  • dariuss-Orv
    10/30/2014 - 04:45 p.m.

    I can see why they call it goofy, jar jar binks and barney it kind of looks like all three of them. I've always liked dinosaurs but i don't like this one

  • LucasU-5
    10/30/2014 - 08:43 p.m.

    This article is about a recently discovered dinosaur that has a "funky" appearance. The dinosaur resembles an ostrich however it is much larger. The dinosaur has feathers and a large crest in the middle of his head.

  • ConnorK-2
    10/30/2014 - 09:06 p.m.

    Freaky weird dinosaur Deinocheirus is a wondrous new discovery. This giant dinosaur was found in Mongolia and thought that they had discovered this new terrifying beast. Well, that really didn't go as planned. The scientists were surprised at the sight that they saw when all the pieces to the body were put together. A weird looking Barney and Jar Jar binks creature stood before them when they finished. This dinosaur is a herbivore that uses his massive beak to chew and grind its food down before swallowing it. It is a relative to the modern day ostrich. Its age is over seventy million years old. This is a funny looking dinosaur that may have kids picking this one as their favorite. I love this new dinosaur's model and physical characteristics.

  • SofiaA-4
    10/30/2014 - 10:33 p.m.

    A new skeleton of dinosaur bones was discovered recently even though the arms were found nearly fifty years ago. This dinosaur, called Deinocheirus mirificus, is very strange looking. It looks as though it were a "cross between Barney and Jar-Jar Binks." Scientists believe it was an omnivore and used its long arms only to defend itself.

    I find this to be very interesting. I like dinosaurs and it is fantastic that scientists have found a new one. I wish we could know exactly what dinosaurs were like so we didn't have controversies about how each dinosaur's part was used. Hopefully, we can find a why to know more.

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