ELMISAURUS (ELM-ee-SORE-us)

Period: Late Cretaceous

Order, Suborder, Family: Saurischia, Theropoda, Elmisauridae

Location: Asia (Mongolia), North America (Canada)

Length: 6-10 feet (1.8-3 meters)

The Joint Polish-Mongolian Paleontological Expeditions of the 1960s produced many new kinds of dinosaurs, many of which were small theropods. Because small dinosaur skeletons were delicate, they were rarely fossilized. One new theropod was named Elmisaurus. Its name comes from the Mongolian word elmyi, which means beautiful.

In 1981, Halszka Osmólska described the unusual foot bones of Elmisaurus. Because these bones were different from other small theropods, she placed it in its own family, the Elmisauridae. This was the only known member of Elmisauridae, but recently the partial skeleton of the small theropod Chirostenotes pergracilis from Alberta was described. After the foot bones of Elmisaurus and Chirostenotes were compared, it was found that Chirostenotes was a North American member of the same family. Ornithomimus elegans, also from North America, may be a second species of Elmisaurus. Elmisaurus is one of a few Late Cretaceous animals that had both Asian and North American species.