Ornithomimus (meaning 'bird mimic') is a genus of dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous Period of what is now North America. Ornithomimus velox was named on the basis of a foot and partial hand from the Maastrichtian Denver Formation, but better material has since been found in Canada, including the Edmontonian-age Ornithomimus edmontonicus and an excellent articulated specimen (species unknown) from Dinosaur Provincial Park. Other specimens assigned to Ornithomimus have been discovered on the Eastern Coast of the USA.
Like other ornithomimids
is characterized by a three-toed foot, long slender arms and a long neck with a birdlike skull. It differs from other ornithomimids, such as Struthiomimus
, in having very slender, straight hand and foot claws and in having metacarpals and fingers of similar lengths. Its hands are remarkably sloth-like in appearance, which led Henry Fairfield Osborn to suggest that they were used to hook branches during feeding.
Ornithomimus was 12 ft (3.5 meters) long, 7 feet (2.10 meters) high and weighed around 100-150 kg. It was bipedal and superficially resembled an ostrich, except for its long tail. It would have been a swift runner.
In popular culture
played a prominent role in the television series Prehistoric Park
, where they were featured, to a greater or lesser extent, in every episode. They were portrayed as flock animals whose chicks have fluffy feathers and imprint on the first thing they see. They were also shown to have feeding habits more like that of a duck than an ostrich, a behavior based on an hypothesis (since refuted) which proposed that ornithomimids were filter feeders. Ornithomimus
also appeared in a variety of motion pictures, including Fantasia
(1940), The Valley of Gwangi
(1969), Planet of Dinosaurs
(1978) and the IMAX
film T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous