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Segnosaurus (Wikimedia Commons)


Segnosaurus (Greek for "slow lizard"); pronounced SEG-no-SORE-us


Woodlands of Central Asia

Historical Period:

Middle Cretaceous (90 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 15-20 feet long and 1,000 pounds


Probably omnivorous

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Squat trunk; muscular arms with three-fingered hands


About Segnosaurus:

Segnosaurus, scattered bones of which were discovered in Mongolia in 1979, has proven an elusive dinosaur to classify. Most paleontologists lump this species in with Therizinosaurus as a (no surprise here) therizinosaur, based on its long claws and backward-facing pubic bones. It's not even certain what Segnosaurus ate; lately, it has been fashionable to portray this dinosaur as a kind of prehistoric anteater, tearing apart insect nests with its long claws, though it may also have gobbled up fish or small reptiles.

A third possibility for the Segnosaurian diet--plants--would upend established ideas about dinosaur classification. If Segnosaurus and other therizinosaurs were in fact herbivores--and there's some evidence to this effect based on these dinosaurs' jaw and hip structure--they would be the first such theropods of their kind, which would raise many more questions than it answered!


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