It’s not every day paleontologists discover a new dinosaur! These discoveries take me back to the wonder of imagining the dinosaur world when I was a child. We weren’t saturated with the pre-digested smoothly-animated imagery* of Jurassic Park and Walking With Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Park. We imagined the world in fits and starts, informed by fragmented scraps of information from books and museum exhibits. The grassy world in my mind, populated by the lizard giants Brontosaurus and T. rex thundering around and eating gum trees and each other, pterodactyls swooping overhead, gradually evolved into a series of grassless volcanic worlds inhabited by Brachiosaurus and Microraptor and Ankylosaurus and Coelophysis and Baryonyx and Ornithomimus and Parasaurolophus.
What am I on about? Today’s news brings us the story of a new discovery, a 1400 kg toothless bird-like dinosaur, dubbed Gigantoraptor erlianensis.
image credit: The Telegraph UK
Discovered in Inner Mongolia, Gigantoraptor erlianensis boasts a toothless beak and spongy, light bones, and is many times heavier than similar oviraptosaurs. It is not known yet whether it was carnivorous, herbivorous, or both.
*Not that I’m arguing against the existence of such imagery – I enjoy every minute of dinosaur flicks, just as I did my childhood dinosaur conceptual trail, and my four year old doesn’t seem any less enthusiastic about his dino discoveries than I was. Any kid who can pronounce “Icthyosaur” impeccably is doing alright.