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Gallimimus

GAL - ee - MY - mus

Theropoda/Ornithomidae
Tuomas Koivurinne. Copyright 2007

Field Notes

Name Means: "Chicken mimic"
Length: 10 feet (3 m)
Diet: Carnivore (Meat-Eater)
Time: Late Cretaceous
Location: Mongolia

Gallimimus was one of the largest and best known of the ornithomimid, or "bird mimic," dinosaurs. It was one of the most important discoveries made by joint Polish-Mongolian expeditions to Mongolia during the 1960s, and skeletons from several stages of this dinosaur's growth have been collected. The largest were animals 10 feet (3 m) long. More than two-thirds of this length, however, is accounted for by the neck and tail.

As with other ornithomimids, Gallimimus's skull was relatively small and its jaws were toothless. Its limbs and neck were very long and slender, and the bones of the palm - the metacarpals - were particularly long. Even the metacarpal for the thumb was much longer than in most theropods, where the thumb is usually markedly shorter than the other digits.

We think that Gallimimus, and the other ornithomimids, were capable of great bursts of speed - they were certainly depicted as fast-moving animals in the film Jurassic Park. Gallimimus's arms had considerable freedom of movement, although they do not seem to have been able to reach very high. To compensate for this, its long neck could probably have stretched down, allowing Gallimimus to bring food items from it hands up to its mouth.

This dinosaur probably fed on small animals - including, perhaps, insects - and also possibly on plant matter. Its hands, which were more suited to digging than grasping, may also have scooped up the eggs of other dinosaurs from the soil and then cracked them open with the broad beak at the tip of its long snout.

Mongolian ornithomimids such as Gallimimus are typically found along with large tyrannosaurid theropods and duckbills, but not with the horned ceratopsians. North American ornithomimids, on the other hand, are more commonly found with diverse and abundant ceratopsians. This suggests that Asian and North American members of this group lived under different conditions. However, just what these differences were we have yet to discover.

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