Deinocheirus

The Deinocheirus was one of the rarest dinosaur genera that have ever existed, it is classified within the group of the theropod dinosaurs deinoqueíridos.

It inhabited our planet during the Cretaceous Period, approximately 70 million years ago and it is determined that it would have had a really peculiar aspect.

It had a hump, a duck’s beak, and above all, large, terrifying, sharp claws that served to dig into the earth. In addition, he had a great appetite for meat, but he was not an active predator as you might think, but a scavenger.

The Deinocheirus is considered to be the Cretaceous dinosaur that had the largest claws, so you can get an idea, its claws would have measured no less than about 3 meters.

Are you interested in more information about the Deinocheirus? Stay and read on to find out all about this Cretaceous scavenger dinosaur!

Taxonomy of the Deinocheirus

  • We are looking at a specimen belonging to the kingdom of Animalia.
  • The phylum on which we found it is Chordata.
  • The class it belonged to is Sauropsida.
  • It obviously belongs to the super-dinosaur.
  • The order in which it was classified is Saurischia.
  • The suborder we found it in is Theropoda.
  • The suborder in which it was classified is Ornithomimosauria.
  • This specimen belonged to the family called Deinocheiridae.
  • The genus we are referring to is Deinocheirus.

This genus is only represented by one species, D. mirificus, this is the type species on the basis of which all the scientific description that we can have at present has been made.

It is important to mention at this point that the fact that only one species is currently known does not imply that no more exist. This classification could change if new fossil remains of the same genus are found, but with enough differences to represent a different species.

For this reason, from this platform we will do our best to keep this information updated in the event of any change in the taxonomy of this dinosaur.

History of the discovery

The meaning of the name Deinocheirus is “terrible hand”, which is derived from the words “δεινός” (deinos) which is understood as “awesome or terrible” and the Greek word “χέρι” (cheír) which means hand.

This is the name with which it is denominated since the first finding of this dinosaur was two enormous claws, these are remains found in the year 1965.

The expedition in which these remains were found was organized by the Academy of Sciences of Poland, and was finally carried out in Mongolia, more precisely in the Nemegt formation.

This discovery would be described in 1970 by Ewa Roniewicz and Halszka Osmólska, who decided to call it Deinocheirus mirificus and classified it as a theropod, belonging to the family of Ornithomimosaurs.

The remains found in 1965 correspond to a scapula, a pair of giant claws and the front extremities.

Afterwards, there would be no more findings of this dinosaur for over 50 years, so it was a totally rare dinosaur and unknown to the scientific community for a long time. However, several paleontologists drew some conclusions from these fossil remains.

For example, due to the characteristics of its claws some people deduced that it was an ornithomimid, as they were long and thin as in most of the dinosaurs of this family.

However, Deinocheirus had an important peculiarity, it had the longest arms of ornithomimids found so far.

In 2006, other remains of what would be an adult specimen of this dinosaur were found. This discovery was made in the Nemegt formation, the same place where the first fossil of this dinosaur was found.

The finding included all the bones of the lower half of the body which in its time helped to reveal more information about this dinosaur, however, there were still doubts about its shape and many more features.

Later on there would be another find made in the year 2009, in this expedition many parts were found which helped to reveal more information about this dinosaur.

Vertebrae from the neck, an arm with a claw and all the bones from the lower part (legs, hip and tail) were found. Basically only the part of the ribs, skull and the right claw were missing.

It should be noted that the missing parts of the find made in 2009, were first found by fossil hunters, who then sold them on the black market, however, it was possible to recover these remains and thus complete the specimen found in 2009.

With a complete skeleton of this dinosaur it was easier for researchers to draw conclusions about the characteristics of this dinosaur, its lifestyle and diet. All these data we are going to see in this same article.

The life of Deinocheirus on planet earth

This dinosaur inhabited our planet some 70 million years ago, which places us at the end of the Cretaceous.

The discoveries of its fossil remains were made in Asia, in Mongolia, being this the vast territory where scientists believe its existence was developed.

About how their habitat was, their remains were found in the Nemegt formation, so it is believed that they lived in the beds of rivers, lakes and swamps.

This is considered so since such extension of land in the Cretaceous was characterized by being composed of different bodies of water, according to the evidence found in the rocks and ground of such formation.

Fishbone remains have been found in the fossil remains of the stomach cavities of the dinosaur featured in this article, so with regard to its diet many researchers agree that it was omnivorous.

Therefore it would feed on fish in the rivers, small vertebrates, fruits and plants, it is also believed that it used its large claws to dig or stir the water, in order to find food.

However, experts also point out that it was a scavenger and could feed on animal remains left by other carnivores of the time.

Despite its large size and other characteristics, it was not a feared predator and as you will see it had a mouth in the shape of a duck’s beak and no teeth, therefore, it was not viable for it to attack using its jaw as its main weapon.

The latter, lacking teeth, is believed to have gone to the rivers to hunt fish, and with the help of his claws, he would stir the bottoms of the rivers in search of algae. These claws were also used as a defence against other predators.

On the other hand some researchers did not rule out the possibility that he was a good climber, like the sloth bears, helped by his claws he might have been able to climb to a certain height and reach fruits and plants.

However, this theory was not widely accepted because it was found that the claws he had could not close, which made it difficult in some ways to climb or climb trees.

Its eyes were small, so it is believed that it was very active by day, being a slow animal because it was equipped with somewhat robust and thick legs, very similar to those of the other ornithomimosaurs, which were very useful for supporting its body, but they reduced its speed.

Its large size surely scared off a large number of predators, however, it was not without its easy prey for a couple of known predators in that area.

One of its natural predators was the Tarbosaurus, in fact the first specimen found had bite marks of Tarbosaurus, which was the largest and strongest predator in the region.

General characteristics

These dinosaurs were big, they could reach a length of 11 meters, a height of 4 meters and a weight of 6 tons. It was a dinosaur with a tiny head, long neck and big claws.

Its skull was relatively smaller compared to its body; the only known skull was 23 centimeters wide and 1 meter long.

This is a very characteristic skull of the ornithomimosaurs, although it also had a rounded duck-shaped beak, which was made of keratin.

Its eyes were small and its nostrils were located in the front part of the beak, passing between the eyes.

It had a small brain, very similar to that of today’s birds and theropods of its time, researchers say it had an encephalization quotient (EQ) of only 0.69 (that of humans is 7.5).

With regard to its muzzle, as we have already mentioned it was shaped like a duck’s beak, it had no teeth and the lower jaw had a cavity into which a huge tongue apparently fitted. In short, its muzzle was unusually long and wide.

With a slight downward tilt and a slightly wider front end that exactly simulated a duck’s beak, this beak shape was also very characteristic of the Hadrosaurs.

Its jaws were small and it lacked bite force, as we pointed out earlier, it could not be used for hunting.

It had the largest claws of the Cretaceous, measuring between 2.5 and 3.0 meters. It had three fingers with large, very sharp claws.

This dinosaur was bipedal, resting on two short and robust legs, just enough to support its great weight.

As for its torso, it is believed that it was thin and had a large hump, which served to balance it. This hump was formed by some vertebrae that became higher in the center of the torso; a structure very similar to that of the Spinosaurus.

Its tail ended in a pygostyle very similar to that of today’s birds, which shows that the Deinocheirus had feathers at the end of its tail.

Some curiosities about the Deinocheirus

Everything seems to indicate that this dinosaur has a great similarity with the character “jar jar binks”, although, we cannot say that this character was based on this dinosaur since “jar jar binks” saw the light in the year 1999 and the reconstruction of the appearance of the Deinocheirus was only in the year 2009.

Some researchers call it the rarest dinosaur that has been discovered so far, and even call it the dinosaur-ostrich, because of its resemblance to this bird.