Harpymimus (Harpy mimic)

Short Info

Harpymimus (Harpy mimic)

Phonetic : Har-pee-mie-mus.

Named By : Barsbold & Perle & 1984

Diet : Omnivore

Size : Estimated 2 meters long

Type of Dinosaur : Small Theropod

Type Species : H. okladnikovi (type)

Found in : Mongolia – Khuren Dhuk Formation

When it Lived : Early Cretaceous, 121-99 million years ago

Harpymimus, a basal ornithomimosaurian dinosaur theropod dinosaur, is from what is now Mongolia’s Early Cretaceous Period. Harpymimus, unlike later ornithomimosaurs that had more teeth, still had teeth. However, they seem to have been limited to the lower jaw.


Harpymimus holotype★Kumiko★ from Tokyo, Japan, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


A Soviet-Mongolian expedition discovered a theropod skull in the Gobi Desert in 1981. This was identified and described by Rinchen Barrsbold, Altangerel Perle in 1984 as the only species of Harpymimus okladnikovi. Harpymimus, the generic name, is a reference at Harpy from Greek mythology. It’s derived from Greek arpuia (“harpyia”) and mimos (“mimos”), “mimic”. This name is in honour of the late Soviet archeologist Alexey Pavlovich Okladnikov.

The holotype specimen IGM100/29 (Mongolian Academy of Sciences Ulan Bator in Mongolia) is a nearly complete, articulated, but compressed skeleton. It lacks only parts of the pelvic girdle and pectoral girdle and has no hindlimbs. It was found in the Dundgovi Aimag, Eastern Gobi Province. The Shinekhudag Formation exposed it. This Formation dates back to the Mid-Late Albian. Other dinosaurs from Dundgovi’s Shinekhudug Formation include the Ceratopsian Psittacosaurus Mongoliensis.

In 2004, Yoshitsugu Kbayashi published a dissertation on Harpymimus. Kobayashi and Barsbold identified Harpymimus in a 2005 article. They used a variety of anatomical characteristics to diagnose the condition.

Although the skull of the Harpymimus type specimen is almost complete, it has been badly crushed and obscures some anatomical details. The upper jaw is covered by a beak that, together with the dentary tooth, may have been used for grasping or holding food. It had a similar appearance to later ornithomimosaurs, with long necks and long arms, sharp grasping claws and long legs. Harpymimus’s teeth are different from Pelecanimimus polyodon’s. They are only limited to the dentary and are cylindrically separated by interdental plates. Pelecanimimus had per side seventy five dentary teeth in its lower jaw and an additional thirty-seven in the upper jaw (maxilla or premaxilla). Harpymimus’ small teeth were likely used for holding and grabbing food items. This was in contrast to the smaller teeth of other theropods which could be used to cut or pierce prey. Only Harpymimus (and Pelecanimimus) retained teeth out of all the ornithomimosaurs. This trait is primitive (plesiomorphic), for the Ornithomimosauria clade. The hand also has a very short first metacarpal and a third metatarsal. This metatarsal is pinched at its top but is still visible from the front of the metatarsus.

The skull measures approximately 262mm in length, which is more than twice its height and half that of the neck (approximately 600mm).

Source: Wikipedia