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Garudimimus brevipes See more dinosaur images.

Brian Franczak

GARUDIMIMUS (gah-ROO-dee-MIME-us)

Period: Late Cretaceous

Order, Suborder, Family: Saurischia, Theropoda, Ornithomimidae

Location: Asia (Mongolia)

Length: 12 feet (3.6 meters)

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Garudimimus brevipes was one of many dinosaurs found by the Joint Soviet-Mongolian Paleontological Expeditions of the 1970s. It was named for the Garuda bird of Hindu mythology; its name means "short-footed Garuda mimic."

It was a primitive ornithomimid. Although its toothless skull looked like those of the other ornithomimids, it had a short, hornlike crest on top of its muzzle. The pelvis and feet of Garudimimus were not as adapted for running as those of its later relatives. Its foot still had a small first toe; this toe was gone in later ornithomimids. Garudimimus was placed in its own family, Garudimimidae. But many paleontologists think Garudimimus should remain in the family Ornithomimidae.

Despite the differences from its later relatives, it still had many similarities. It was a bipedal (walked on two legs) plant-eater. Its hands were not able to grasp so it may have used them to dig for food.

In 1984, paleontologists described an earlier, even more primitive Mongolian ornithomimid, Harpymimus okladnikovi. All other ornithomimids were toothless, but Harpymimus had several very small teeth at the front of its snout, which the later ornithomimids did not have. Although they placed the animal in a new family, Harpymimidae, it too probably belongs in the family Ornithomimidae. Because of these two primitive ornithomimids, Mongolia has become an important area for studying the origins of this theropod family.