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So, you thought you knew what ornithomimid beaks were like...



Hi, everybody.

In the "you learn something new everyday" category:
Norell, M.A., P. J. Makovicky & P.J. Currie.  2001.  The beaks of ostrich
dinosaurs. Nature 412: 873-874.

Reports soft-tissue preservation in the beaks of two ornithomimids (a RTMP
Ornithomimus edmontonicus and a IGM Gallimimus bullatus).  Both show that
instead of just a simple beak there was, on the interior surface, a set of
small evenly spaced vertical lamellae.  These are comparable to the features
found in the beaks of... ducks and geese.  (So Anserimimus wasn't such a bad
name... :-).  They suggest that like modern anseriforms, ornithomimids may
have (at least on occasion) strained food from the water.

This also is consistent with the paleoenvironmental distribution of these
guys: they are found in wetter deposits (the American West, the Iren Dabasu
and Bayn Shire, the Nemegt, etc.) but are very rare or absent in desert
units like the Djadokhta or Barun Goyot.  (Previously size might have been
thought to be a factor keeping ornithomimids out of the deserts, but some of
the bigger oviraptorosaurs in the Djadokhta overlap the size range of
ornithomimids).

Interestingly, Perez-Moreno et al. speculated that Pelecanimimus lived by
feeding of water animals, at least in part.

For news articles on it:
http://www.msnbc.com/news/621305.asp?0dm=C22DN
http://www.cnn.com/2001/TECH/science/08/29/beaked.dinosaurs/index.html

                Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                Vertebrate Paleontologist
Department of Geology           Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland          College Park Scholars
                College Park, MD  20742
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~tholtz/tholtz.htm
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~jmerck/eltsite
Phone:  301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Fax (Geol):  301-314-9661       Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796