Palaeontology

The beaks of ostrich dinosaurs

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Abstract

Primitive ornithomimids, a ubiquitous group of specialized Cretaceous dinosaurs nested within a clade of predominantly carnivorous theropods, are known to have had teeth, whereas derived ornithomimids had an edentulous beak, which has prompted speculation about their dietary habits1. Here we describe two new ornithomimid specimens in which soft-tissue structures of the beak have been preserved. These creatures probably used their beaks to strain food sediment in an aqueous environment, rather than for predation on large animals.

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Figure 1: Two ornithomimid specimens, showing preservation of soft-tissue structures of the beak.
Figure 2

COURTESY OF MIKE SKREPNICK

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Correspondence to Mark A. Norell.

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Norell, M., Makovicky, P. & Currie, P. The beaks of ostrich dinosaurs. Nature 412, 873–874 (2001) doi:10.1038/35091139

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