Bird Mimic Dinosaur Pictures and Profiles

01
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Meet the "Bird Mimic" Dinosaurs of the Mesozoic Era

pelecanimimus
Pelecanimimus. Sergio Perez

Ornithomimids--the "bird mimic" dinosaurs--were the Mesozoic equivalent of modern emus and ostriches. On the following slides, you'll find pictures and detailed profiles of nearly 20 ornithomimid dinosaurs, ranging from Anserimimus to Valdoraptor.

02
of 19

Anserimimus

anserimimus
Anserimimus. Wikimedia Commons

Name:

Anserimimus (Greek for "goose mimic"); pronounced AN-ser-ih-MIME-us

Habitat:

Plains of central Asia

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (75-65 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 14 feet long and 250-500 pounds

Diet:

Probably omnivorous

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Long legs; powerful arms

 

The rare ornithomimid ("bird mimic") Anserimimus is known only from a single, incomplete skeleton found in the Gobi Desert--including a hindlimb and a forelimb but (as is often the case with dinosaurs) no head. Like other ornithomimids of the late Cretaceous period, Anserimimus probably had no teeth and subsisted on small insects, reptiles and mammals, though its atypically powerful arms may be a hint that it occasionally pursued larger prey. (By the way, unlike Struthiomimus ("ostrich mimic") and Gallimimus ("chicken mimic"), Anserimimus probably didn't look much like a goose, after which it's named. That's because the paleontologist who first described it wanted to follow the ornithomimid tradition of naming new genera after existing birds.)

 

 

03
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Archaeornithomimus

archaeornithomimus
Archaeornithomimus. Eduardo Camarga

Name:

Archaeornithomimus (Greek for "ancient bird mimic"); pronounced ARE-kay-OR-nith-oh-MIME-us

Habitat:

Plains of Asia

Historical Period:

Middle Cretaceous (110-100 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 10 feet long and 100 pounds

Diet:

Probably omnivorous

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Small, narrow head; light build

 

Sometimes, the dinosaurs with the longest names are the ones about that paleontologists know the least about. That's certainly the case with Archaeornithomimus, an ornithomimid ("bird mimic") from the middle Cretaceous period that was probably ancestral to the more well-known Ornithomimus. As you might expect, given their evolutionary relationship, Archaeornithomimus was comparatively less specialized than its famous descendant, with a much more slender build. Like other ornithomimids, Archaeornithomimus was probably omnivorous, fast enough to both chase down small animals and avoid larger predators.

 

 

04
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Beishanlong

beishanlong
Beishanlong. Wikimedia Commons

Name:

Beishanlong (Chinese for "Beishan dragon"); pronounced bay-shan-LONG

Habitat:

Plains of Asia

Historical Period:

Early Cretaceous (125 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 10 feet high and 1,500 pounds

Diet:

Probably omnivorous

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large size; long tail and legs

 

One of the latest ornithomimid ("bird mimic") dinosaurs to join the prehistoric flock, Beishanlong was also one of the largest, at 10 feet tall and close to a ton exceeding even the famous Gallimimus in size. Besides its presumed speed (a trait shared by all ornithomimids), Beishanlong was also equipped with unusually powerful front limbs and hands, as well as scary, six-inch-long claws. Ominously, the paleontologists who discovered the sole specimen of Beishanlong (in 2009) speculate that it was still a juvenile when it died, meaning that this breed may have attained truly gigantic sizes.

 

05
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Deinocheirus

deinocheirus
Deinocheirus. Wikimedia Commons

Most of what we know about Deinocheirus is based on a handful of fossil remains--two long forelimbs and bits of ribs and vertebrae--discovered in southern Mongolia in 1970; recently, this giant dinosaur was pegged as a true "bird mimic." See 10 Facts About Deinocheirus

 

06
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Dromiceiomimus

dromiceiomimus
The skull of Dromiceiomimus. Wikimedia Commons

At full tilt, the "bird mimic" dinosaur Dromiceiomimus may have capable of running at 45 or 50 miles per hour, though it probably stepped on the gas pedal only when it was being pursued by larger predators. See an in-depth profile of Dromiceiomimus

 

07
of 19

Gallimimus

gallimimus
Gallimimus. Wikimedia Commons

The ornithomimid dinosaur Gallimimus (Greek for "chicken mimic") was discovered in the Gobi Desert in 1963, and is represented by numerous fossil remains, ranging from juveniles to full-grown adults. See an in-depth profile of Gallimimus

 

08
of 19

Garudimimus

garudimimus
Garudimimus. Wikimedia Commons

New research has shown that the purported "crest" of the "bird mimic" dinosaur Garudimimus didn't actually exist; the paleontologists who reconstructed the skeleton put a small bone in the wrong place! See an in-depth profile of Garudimimus

 

09
of 19

Harpymimus

harpymimus
Harpymimus. Sergio Perez

Name:

Harpymimus (Greek for "Harpy mimic"); pronounced HAR-pee-MIME-us

Habitat:

Plains of central Asia

Historical Period:

Early Cretaceous (135-125 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 13 feet long and 200 pounds

Diet:

Probably omnivorous

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Long, narrow skull; teeth on lower jaw

 

As you might expect from an early ornithomimid ("bird mimic") dinosaur, Harpymimus had some primitive characteristics that set it apart from late Cretaceous relatives like Ornithomimus and Struthiomimus, chief among them a scattering of teeth along its lower jaw. (Oddly enough, the only other toothed ornithomimid, Pelecanimimus, had a whopping 220 teeth--the most of any theropod, let alone ornithomimid, yet discovered.) Since it's currently believed that Harpymimus was directly ancestral to later ornithomimids, one can only conclude that the subsequent de-evolution of teeth was an adaptation to an omnivorous diet consisting mainly of insects and small animals (which didn't need to be chewed).

 

 

10
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Hexing

hexing
Hexing. Wikimedia Commons

Name

Hexing (Chinese for "crane-like"); pronounced hay-ZHING

Habitat

Woodlands of eastern Asia

Historical Period

Early Cretaceous (140-130 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About five feet long and 50-75 pounds

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Small size; bipedal posture; probably feathers

 

It's tempting to pronounce it like the English gerund, but Hexing is actually Chinese for "crane-like," a reference to this feathered dinosaur's presumed resemblance to a long-legged bird. Dating to a whopping 140 million years ago, the five-foot-long Hexing is one of the earliest identified ornithomimid, or "bird mimic," dinosaurs, and its closest relative seems to have been another (and slightly bigger) Chinese dino-bird, Shenzhousaurus. Oddly enough, a more primitive ornithomimid, the western European Pelecanimimus, lived millions of years later, which sheds some light on the arrangement of the earth's continents during the early Cretaceous period.

11
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Kinnareemimus

kinnareemimus
Kinnareemimus watching a spinosaurid at work. Wikimedia Commons

Name

Kinnareemimus ("Kinnaree mimic," after a figure from Thai mythology); pronounced KIN-ah-ree-MIME-us

Habitat

Woodlands of Asia

Historical Period

Early Cretaceous (140-130 million years ago)

Size and Weight

Undisclosed

Diet

Unknown; possibly omnivorous

Distinguishing Characteristics

Bipedal posture; long legs; probably feathers

 

One of the few dinosaurs ever to be discovered in Thailand--the little-known titanosaur Phuwiangosaurus is another example--Kinnareemimus is important in that it's one of the earliest identified ornithomimid, or "bird mimic," dinosaurs. (In fact, the early Cretaceous provenance of Kinnareemimus points to an Asian origin for all ornithomimids.) Unfortunately, the type fossil of Kinnareemimus is scattered and incomplete, making the most distinctive thing about this dinosaur its name (the Kinnaree is a figure from Thai mythology with the upper body of a woman and the legs and feet of a bird).

 

12
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Ornithomimus

ornithomimus
Ornithomimus. Julio Lacerda

While it's unlikely that Ornithomimus was as smart as a modern ostrich, its comparative intelligence indicates that theropod dinosaurs may have been on the verge of evolving bigger brains before they went extinct. See 10 Facts About Ornithomimus

 

13
of 19

Pelecanimimus

pelecanimimus
Pelecanimimus. Sergio Perez

Name:

Pelecanimimus (Greek for "pelican mimic"); pronounced PELL-ih-CAN-ih-MIME-us

Habitat:

Plains of western Europe

Historical Period:

Early Cretaceous (135-125 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About seven feet long and 50-100 pounds

Diet:

Probably omnivorous

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Small size; large number of teeth

 

Along with Harpymimus, Pelecanimimus is what paleontologists call a "basal" ornithomimid, with less evolved features than the bigger, faster bird mimic dinosaurs of the late Cretaceous period like Ornithomimus. In this respect, the small size of Pelecanimimus makes sense, but what's most puzzling is this dinosaur's huge number of teeth--well over 200, the most of any theropod yet discovered, even including Tyrannosaurus Rex. (The only other ornithomimid known to have sported teeth is Harpymimus, and this dinosaur only had a mere dozen or so.)

We may never know for sure why Pelecanimimus had so many teeth, but we can speculate about why later ornithomimids were completely toothless. As these fast, ostrich-like dinosaurs learned to feed primarily on insects and small animals (which don't need to be chewed, just swallowed), having teeth became an unnecessary luxury, and they gradually disappeared over millions of years of evolution.

 

14
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Qiupalong

qiupalong
Qiupalong. Nobu Tamura

Name

Qiupalong (Chinese for "Qiupa dragon"); pronounced shoo-pah-LONG

Habitat

Plains of eastern Asia

Historical Period

Late Cretaceous (75-65 million years ago)

Size and Weight

Undisclosed

Diet

Probably omnivorous

Distinguishing Characteristics

Long, powerful hind legs; straight tail

 

Until the announcement of Qiupalong in 2011, the only known ornithomimid ("bird mimic") dinosaurs from Asia hailed from the Gobi Desert (the most prominent, and mysterious, example being the long-armed Deinocheirus).  Qiupalong, by contrast, was unearthed in China's eastern Hunan province, and demonstrates that, during the late Cretaceous period, bird mimic dinosaurs had a wider distribution across the eastern half of Eurasia than had previously been believed. Like other ornithomimids, Qiupalong was no doubt a very speedy runner, which would have helped it both to avoid predation and to chase down smaller, skittering dinosaurs.

 

15
of 19

Shenzhousaurus

shenzhousaurus
Shenzhousaurus. Wikimedia Commons

Name:

Shenzhousaurus (Greek for "Shenzhou lizard"); pronounced SHEN-zhoo-SORE-us

Habitat:

Plains of China

Historical Period:

Early Cretaceous (140 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About five feet long and 50 pounds

Diet:

Probably omnivorous

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Small size; narrow snout with few teeth

 

Known from only a single fossil--in which the unfortunate individual has been caught in a painful-looking "death pose"--the early Cretaceous Shenzhousaurus is one of the smallest and earliest of all the ornithomimid ("bird-mimic") dinosaurs. The small number of teeth in its narrow skull, as well as the gastroliths preserved in its stomach, indicate that Shenzhousaurus was probably omnivorous, feeding opportunistically on meat, plants and even insects. Looking at the type specimen, it's hard to imagine this toddler-sized dinosaur evolving into more impressive, quarter-ton ornithomimids like Gallimimus and Struthiomimus millions of years down the road!

16
of 19

Sinornithomimus

sinornithomimus
The skull of Sinornithomimus. Wikimedia Commons

Name:

Sinornithomimus (Greek for "Chinese bird mimic"); pronounced sigh-NOR-nith-oh-MIME-us

Habitat:

Plains of Asia

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (90 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About eight feet long and 100 pounds

Diet:

Probably omnivorous

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Bipedal posture; relatively small size

 

By all rights, Sinornithomimus should be a better-known dinosaur, at least as popular as other "bird mimics" like Gallimimus and Ornithomimus. This relatively basal (i.e., unevolved) ornithomimid is known from two spectacular fossil discoveries in China, the first consisting of the tangled skeletons of three adults and 11 juveniles (which died en masse in some natural diaster), and the second made up entirely of babies and children. Clearly, Sinornithomimus wandered the plains of Asia in small family groups or packs, though it seems the juveniles were sometimes left to fend for themselves while the adults tended to their eggs or, perhaps, warded off predators.

 

17
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Struthiomimus

struthiomimus
Struthiomimus. Wikimedia Commons

Struthiomimus ("ostrich mimic") likely pursued an opportunistic diet, feeding on plants, small animals, insects, fish, and even carrion (when recently killed prey animals were left unattended by other, larger carnivorous dinosaurs). See an in-depth profile of Struthiomimus

 

18
of 19

Thecocoelurus

thecocoelurus
Thecocoelurus. DinoWight

Name

Thecocoelurus (Greek for "hollow socket tail"); pronounced THEE-koe-see-LURE-us

Habitat

Woodlands of western Europe

Historical Period

Early Cretaceous (130-125 million years ago)

Size and Weight

Undisclosed

Diet

Unknown; possibly omnivorous

Distinguishing Characteristics

Bipedal posture; probably feathers

 

It's amazing how many stories can be spun around a single, fossilized neck bone. When the Rev. William Darwin Fox (second cousin of Charles Darwin) discovered this vertebra on the Isle of Wight, in the 19th century, he left it in his will to the British Museum of Natural History, whereupon it was "diagnosed" as belonging to a theropod dinosaur closely related to Coelurus. Over the ensuing decades, the bone was variously interpreted as being left by an oviraptorosaur (i.e., a feathered dinosaur closely related to Oviraptor), a therizinosaur (a larger, goofier feathered dinosaur closely related to Therizinosaurus), and finally an ornithomimid (another family of theropods typified by Ornithomimus).

19
of 19

Valdoraptor

valdoraptor
The leg bones of Valdoraptor. Wikimedia Commons

 

Name

Valdoraptor (Greek for "Wealden thief"); pronounced VAL-doe-rap-tore

Habitat

Woodlands of England

Historical Period

Early Cretaceous (130 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About 15 feet long and 500 pounds

Diet

Unknown; possibly omnivorous

Distinguishing Characteristics

Long legs; bipedal posture; probably feathers

 

Valdoraptor is yet another of those innumerable dinosaurs that were discovered ahead of their time: examining its fossilized feet in the mid-19th century, the English paleontologist Richard Owen assigned it to the ankylosaur genus Hylaeosaurus, and a couple of decades later it was reclassified as a genus of the meat-eating Megalosaurus. Only recently has Valdoraptor been recognized as a very rare bird indeed: an early English ornithomimid, or "bird mimic" dinosaur, roughly contemporaneous with the European Thecocoelurus. However, this too must remain a provisional classification, pending the discovery of more complete fossil specimens.