In 2007, the skeleton of a new curious animal was discovered in Mongolia: at first, it was even difficult to determine whose remains it was. The further the study progressed, the more scientists became surprised. When paleontologists dug up the "wreckage" of this creature, they thought that they again came across another elephant or dinosaur. So was found a previously unknown dinosaur, later called "Gigantoraptor".
This weird dinosaur fits into our Top 10 Weirdest Dinosaurs of The Mesozoic Time.
Let's take a closer look.
Some features of oviraptorids:
It turned out that this animal was not small: it was 8 meters long and about 5 meters high. In short, the size is almost like an elephant weighs 1.4 tons. Toothless lower jaws of the Gigantoraptor were merged into a wide shovel-shaped jaw. They indicate that the unidentified reptile skull was over half a meter long and also had no teeth. The skull was probably equipped with a hornbeak. The anterior caudal vertebrae have very high acuity and are highly pneumatized by deep plevrocele. The middle section of the relatively short tail is held in place by long prezihapophilias. The posterior part of the caudal vertebrae is facilitated by spongy bone. The anterior extremities were rather long due to elongated brushes. The humerus is considerably curved outside and has a rounded head. The first metacarpal bone is very short and carries a strongly deflected thumb. The hind limbs are also long due to the elongated lower part of the leg. The femur bone is relatively thin and short, with an obvious head and neck. The foot is strong, with large curved claws. The structure of the skeleton allowed us to draw conclusions about the high mobility of the monster, despite its size.
The anterior extremities were underdeveloped and also covered with feathers, although it is unlikely that they could have raised such a huge body in the air. So why do you need wings if not for the flight?
Group of the paleontologists who founded this dinosaur reported that they may have been needed to keep the egg-laying warm.
There's no direct evidence that the Gigantoraptor has feathers, but the scientists discussed the probable presence of feathers in the animal. They admitted that although the Gigantoraptor was a representative of the Oviraptors (a group that includes the feathered dinosaurs of Caudipterix and Protarheopterix), it could well have been "naked" because it was three hundred times more massive than this genus, and very large animals can rely on their mass to regulate body temperature. Scientists have suggested, however, that at least the feathers on the front limbs of the Gigantoraptor were preserved since their main functions - to show or hide eggs during hatching - are not related to thermoregulation.
Oviraptors, literally "egg thieves", are a genus of lizard dinosaurs who lived in the territory of modern Mongolia and Tajikistan during the Upper Cretaceous period. They reached 2 meters in length and weighed about 40-50 kg. They had long limbs. They had a crest on their head. A characteristic feature of the Oviraptor is that they raped eggs, although they were originally suspected of stealing Protoceratops eggs. Also, they were probably covered in feathers, but there's no evidence of that. Some scientist claimed Oviraptors were probably omnivorous creatures. They fed on various plants, clams, lizards, and snakes. It's also possible that the Oviraptors attacked Protoceratops.
The Oviraptors multiplied by laying and hatching eggs. To do this, they built special nests for laying eggs: they raked out the grass and earth, creating a pile about a meter high, then, jumping on top of it, creating a hollow. After doing this, the female made several clutches in the hollow at the top of the nest. After the birth of cubs, parents continued to take care of them: in the beginning, while little oviraptors were helpless, one parent guarded them, and the other went in search of food for himself and for the cubs. Later the cubs could follow the parents and most likely the cubs were already fed by themselves or were feeding on what the parents found.
In paleontology, there has always been the notion that, as dinosaurs of prey evolved, they captured the features of birds while glimpsing. In contrast, the Gigantoraptor, for some reason, was incredibly large. And in general, according to the reports, this creature - the largest among those who were covered with feathers.
Later, scientists have attributed the Giantoraptor to the group of Oviraptoridae, to the basal position, because in the anatomy of the Gigantoraptor can be traced the most similar features with the anatomical features of Oviraptors.
But later analysis in 2010 revealed that the Giantoraptor belongs to the Caenagnathidae group, not to the Oviraptoridae, the scientists are split on this theory.
The food the Gigantoraptor was consuming is unknown. Although some Oviraptorosaurs, such as Caudypteryx and Incidentosaurus, are thought to have been mostly omnivorous or herbivorous, the Giantoraptor's long hind legs are clearly adapted to rapid movement (it was more agile than a larger and less flexible Tarbosaur) and its huge claws, a combination that is not generally found in large herbivores. Scientists have suggested that the Giantoraptor was probably a herbivorous animal, and that speed was used to avoid predators.
Since the only remains of Gigantoraptor were found in Mongolia, one can judge the climatic conditions and habitat in which this prehistoric creature lived. Mongolia is characterized by desert and plain areas with rare forests. The existence of giant Oviraptors such as Gigantoraptor explains several early Asian findings of very large, up to 53 centimeters long, fossilized Macroelongatoolithus carlylensis eggs. They were laid in huge nests three meters in diameter. The presence of Macroelongatoolithus in North America indicates that large Oviraptors lived there too, although no fossil remains were found.
And in general, this discovery is commented rather discreetly, as it is not very clear whether the Gigantoraptor was some "missing part" or, conversely, made whole the system of dinosaurs more complicated. The researchers argue that it belongs to the same family as the egg thieves - relatively small dinosaurs, the most massive of which were 35 times lighter than the Gigantoraptor erlianensis. Gigantoraptor died at a young age for an unknown reason. He was 11 years old. This is how much detail scientists have told us about the giant semi-bird.