Portentous Bird-Mimic

Avimimus portentosus

(Kurzanov, 1981)

    The wonderful and varied maniraptors, the feathered dinosaurs that have proven so successful in small predator niches all across the Cretaceous world, have by no means confined themselves to a carnivorous lifestyle.  Many branches of the maniraptor tree have experimented with herbivory, and nowhere have their experiments met with as much success as in Asia.  The relationships between these branches are still poorly understood, complicated by the fact that the plant-eating probably evolved several times within Maniraptora, but little Avimimus portentosus may represent the base of this tangled bush of vegetarian maniraptors.

    A. portentosus fills the small herbivore niche in the fertile flatland that will become Mongolia.  About the mass of a turkey (though far more lightly built) this creature bounds on long legs to escape the predacious attentions of creatures such as Velociraptor. As a result of its lifestyle, this little creature has the same leggy, long-necked body-plan as any other plains-running maniraptors, from the troodonts to ostriches.  It seems, however, that the true relationships of the avimimes lie with the oviraptors, though the true nature of this relationship between A. portentosus and this famously strange group of the crested dinosaurs is still unknown.

Thanks to Ray Stanford, of course.
Other sites containing pertinent information:

Daniel Bensen 2004
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This species is included in a larger painting.
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