Scientists have long wondered about Deinocheirus mirificus, an oddball, 70 million-year-old dinosaur. The scientists report that the dino had a "beer belly," a duckbill, a camel-like hump, and ostrich-like neck (in fact, it's an ancestor of the modern ostrich). A study published today in the journal Nature finally explains the dinosaur's mutant appearance.
Researchers at the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences were able to create an image of the dinosaur after studying bones that had been missing for years, Bloomberg reports. The missing bones had been sold on the black market to private collectors. The recovered skull bones, along with Deinocheirus bones recently discovered in the Gobi Desert, have finally allowed the scientists to create a nearly-complete skeleton from the dinosaur. Fragments of the dinosaur's arm bones were first discovered in 1965, and the species was named for its "horrible hands."
Thomas Holtz, a paleontologist at the University of Maryland, told Bloomberg that the Chimera-like dinosaur was "peculiar." Its oddities had their uses, though: The Deinocheirus mirificus used its tongue to "suction fish and plants" from lakes and ponds, since the dinosaur lacked teeth. Its beak, meanwhile, allowed it to eat plants. As for its stature — the dinosaur was 16 feet tall and 36 feet long, almost the size of a T-rex — the scientists suspect the Deinocheirus mirificus grew to a large size to avoid being eaten.
Holtz added that the researchers will use the findings on the dinosaur "to better understand ancient ecology," Bloomberg notes.