Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

The Mystery of Deinocheirus Solved

By John Long

With gigantic arms, a beer belly, a humped back and a duck bill, Dinocheirus is one bizarre dinosaur.

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Collected in 1965 from an expedition to Mongolia, a pair of gigantic dinosaur arms each measuring 2.4 metres long have long intrigued palaeontologists and dinosaur fans alike. What kind of dinosaur owned such massive arms?

They are a record for the longest arms of any bipedal animal that has ever lived, barring the flying pterosaurs. It was given the monicker Deinocheirus mirificus, meaning “unusual horrible hand” because the arms had sharp claws and were initially thought of as belonging to a large predatory dinosaur of some sort, while others thought it might be one of the slender, ostrich-like ornithomimosaurs. Reconstructions of it abounded as a regular-looking but grossly overblown ostrich-mimic.

Now, new material of two partially articulate skeletons have been found and described in Nature. The results show that no matter how hard palaeontologists try to reconstruct an animal from a few bones, the truth can be very elusive: the animal is simply bizarre and unexpected in every...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.