A 70-million-year-old ostrich camel
Half a century ago, a giant pair of arms, 70 million years old, were uncovered in the Gobi desert. A staggering 2.4 metres long, the limbs were so extraordinary, scientists were in no doubt that they belonged to a previously unknown species (which they named Deinocheirus mirificus, meaning “unusual horrible hand”) – but they were mystified as to what kind of creature it was. Some envisaged a vast sloth-like beast which hung from its arms; others a huge carnivore. Now, having finally managed to find enough bones to piece together a skeleton, a team has unveiled the creature’s likely shape (pictured) – and it’s far weirder than palaeontologists imagined, reports BBC News online.
A colossal, slow-moving omnivore that stood on its back legs, it was five metres high and 11 metres long – making it about the same size as T-rex – with a large, horse-like head, a duck’s bill and a hump on its back. “None of us suspected it looked like a duck-billed ostrich camel,” said Thomas Holtz of the University of Maryland. “It’s like something a committee might have put together – a committee of kids.”