Shenzhousaurus

The ornithomimosaurs could not have had much less attention on here if I’d tried (Deinocheirus aside), despite the frankly massive bias towards theropods on here. I must confess to not finding them especially exciting, but a good specimen with an interesting feature or two is always worth a quick look. In this case the photos come courtesy of Steve Brusatte (occasional Musings guest poster and research collaborator) as, although the specimen is on exhibit in Beijing, I never got around to taking any photos of it and Steve has a nice set that he was willing to share. Thanks, Steve. (BTW, it’s another boxed in specimen hence the reflections / flash flare).

Shenzhousaurus is known from this single beautifully preserved and excellently prepared skeleton. That on its own makes it worth showing here (as it makes quite a change from either mounted skeletons in exhibition halls, squished flat Liaoning specimens, or isolated teeth) but I suppose I should talk about the group in a bit of detail now I’ve started. I’ll wrap up with just a couple of comments on this taxon and then pick up with a more general post on the clade soon.

Hopefully you can see the small teeth preserved in the front of the jaws (it’s better in the close-up below), something only found in this animal and other basals ornithomimosaurs Pelecanimimus and Harpymimus. All other members of the clade are toothless and presumably had some kind of beak. Also just about visible are a scattering of small stones that are probably gastroliths. These are normally found in a single patch when present, but here it looks like the stomach burst and they escaped and thus are a bit spread out, but still inside the rib cage and there are no other stones like these in the block suggesting they’re genuine gastroliths.

It’s really rather well preserved and an important specimen. I keep meaning to write something on the importance of early members of clades but have never quite got around to it. Even so, hopefully you can appreciate that having an animal with a few small teeth, that descended from a group with lots of big teeth and who is a member of a clade whose later members had no teeth can really help fill in a gap and inform you about their evolution.

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10 Responses to “Shenzhousaurus”


  1. 1 Brian 07/02/2010 at 7:48 pm

    Isn’t *Harpymimus* another basal, toothed ornithomimosaur? What about *Deinocheirus* for that matter? Do you think it was toothed?

    • 2 David Hone 07/02/2010 at 10:23 pm

      I don’t think Harpymimus is toothed, though I’d have to double check and I don’t have my books on me right now. There’s o skull material for Deinocheirus of course, and to my knowledge, of the phylogenies that place it inside Ornithomimosauria, none of them make it especially basal and thus likely to be toothed, though again, I’d want to check the literature.

  2. 3 Nick Gardner 08/02/2010 at 12:20 am

    Barsbold and Perle (1984: Figure 1A), Kobayashi and Barsbold (2005: Figure 6.1C-F), and Makovicky et al. (2004: Figure 6.1C) all illustrate the Harpymimus material with teeth.

    See also: http://bit.ly/abvfLQ

    Barsbold, R. and Perle, A. (1984). [On first new find of a primitive orithomimosaur from the Cretaceous of the MPR]. Paleontologicheskii zhurnal, 2: 121-123.
    Kobayashi, Y. and Barsbold, R. (2005). “Anatomy of Harpymimus okladnikovi Barsbold and Perle 1984 (Dinosauria; Theropoda) of Mongolia.” In Carpenter, K. (ed.) The Carnivorous Dinosaurs. Indiana University Press: 97-126.
    Makovicky, P.J., Y. Kobayashi, and P. J. Currie. 2004. Ornithomimosauria; pp. 137-150 in Weishampel, D.B., Dodson, P., and Osmólska, H. (eds.). The Dinosauria. University of California Press, Berkeley.

  3. 4 Mickey Mortimer 08/02/2010 at 6:22 am

    Nick answered the Harpymimus question well. As for Deinocheirus, Kobayashi and Barsbold (2006) found it to be the basalmost ornithomimosaur when added to the Theropod Working Group matrix. This is similar to what Makovicky et al. (2004) suggested without including it in their analysis.

    Kobayashi and Barsbold, 2006. Ornithomimids from the Nemegt Formation of Mongolia. Journal of the Paleontological Society of Korea. 22(1), 195-207.

  4. 5 David Hone 08/02/2010 at 8:44 am

    Thanks for that guys.

  5. 6 Darren Naish 10/02/2010 at 6:33 pm

    Sorry, yet more self-promotion. More on _Shenzhousaurus_, _Pelecanimimus_ (ahem note spelling) and toothed _Harpymimus_ at…

    http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2007/04/the_tet_zoo_field_guide_to_ost.php

    • 7 David Hone 10/02/2010 at 9:02 pm

      Blha, blah, blah! You have the whole of tetrapod past and present to cover and all you can do is preempt my reviews of ornithomimids! Bah!😉

  6. 8 Darren Naish 10/02/2010 at 9:10 pm

    Not ‘ornithomimids’ – ornithomimosaurs!! Unless you want to go all Sereno on us🙂

    • 9 David Hone 10/02/2010 at 9:53 pm

      I’m terrible for that, the two are synonymous in my head when I know they shouldn’t be…. One think I like about blogging for a non-technical audience is having to worry less about those details, though that doesn’t work when people like you start turnng up…😉


  1. 1 Gallimimus et al., the ornithomimosaurs « Dave Hone’s Archosaur Musings Trackback on 12/02/2010 at 1:00 pm
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