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Erlikosaurus andrewsi See more dinosaur images.

Brian Franczak

ERLIKOSAURUS (AIR-lick-oh-SORE-us)

Period: Late Cretaceous

Order, Suborder, Family: Saurischia, Segnosauria, Segnosauridae

Location: Asia (Mongolia)

Length: 20 feet (6 meters)

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In 1980, Altangerel Perle named Erlikosaurus andrewsi after the demon Erlik from Mongolian mythology and paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews. It was closely related to Segnosaurus. Erlikosaurus is the only segnosaurian that was found with a skull, making it a very important segnosaurian. Unfortunately, little of the skeleton was discovered.

The bones of its foot were more slender than those of Segnosaurus. Erlikosaurus may have been a smaller, more lightly built animal. The front of the snout was toothless, and the skull bones show that Erlikosaurus-and possibly other segnosaurians-had a horny beak for cropping plants.

The teeth of Erlikosaurus show it was a plant-eater. How it used the large, thin, slender claws on its feet is a mystery; perhaps they were useful when the animal waded across rivers.

The segnosaurian Enigmosaurus mongoliensis is known only from part of a pelvis; it was found in the same formation as Erlikosaurus. Because Segnosaurus was closely related to Erlikosaurus, scientists think that the pelvis of Erlikosaurus was similar to that of Segnosaurus. The pelvis of Enigmosaurus was very different from the pelvis of Segnosaurus, so paleontologist Rinchen Barsbold did not think that it belonged to Erlikosaurus. Mongolian dinosaurs are full of surprises, however, and scientists may find that Erlikosaurus and Enigmosaurus are the same animal.