Recall Deinocheirus, the theropod dinosaur (read: T. rex relative) best known for its eight-foot-long arms and huge, impressively clawed hands. Last fall, paleontologists presented lots of newly discovered Deinocheirus material at the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology annual meeting. In fact, this new material provided a nearly complete picture of Deinocheirus, with one notable exception: there was no Deinocheirus head. I wrote about this and quoted the following from Stephen Brusatte via Brian Switek: “There are rumors of a skull being privately collected, looted from Mongolia, and sold on the black market to a legitimate museum in Europe.” Intriguing.
Now it looks like there was some truth to the rumors: infomongolia.com has reported that a Deinocheirus skull — the first to be identified as such! — was returned just last week to the nation of Mongolia by the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. Excitingly, the report includes pictures. So let’s take a look:
I’m no expert, but I suspect that even if I were one I’d have difficulty making sense of this hadrosaurine (duck-billed) skull on an ornithomimid (ostrich-mimic) dinosaur known for its huge arms and ferocious-looking claws.
The upshot? I can’t wait until there are some papers published on all this new Deinocheirus material.