Following a long list of blog posts
that reported an inability here (Fig. 3), in the large reptile tree, to nest various theropods in their traditional nodes, today Deinocheirus (Fig. 1) nests not with ornithomimosaurs, like Struthiomimus, but at the base of the spinosaur clade. Here Deinocheirus nests between Sinocalliopteryx and Dilong + Guanlong, none of which have elongate dorsal spines and all of which have long teeth.
assumed that Deinocheirus was an ornithomimosaur, because it had very similar manus and forelimb proportions. When the skull was discovered, it was likewise toothless. The large reptile tree finds that those traits were convergent with ornithomimosaurs.
Deinocheirus mirificus (Osmólska & Roniewicz, 1970, Latest Cretaceous, 70 mya 11m) was originally and later considered a giant and basal ornithomimosaur. The large reptile tree (see below) nests Deinocheirus between Guanlong and Sinocalliopteryx in the spinosaur clade.
Like ornithomimosaurs, Deinocheirus was toothless and had long slender arms with a metacarpus of subequal metacarpals. Like spinosaurs, Deinocheirus had long dorsal neural spines. Like Sinocalliopteryx, Deinocheirus had an elongate rostrum, a tall orbit and nasals that flared laterally at the nares.
I’m sure theropod workers
can’t be happy that the detailed nestings of their cladograms are not verified here. Tradition may have misguided them, perhaps in this case. Using the matrices of prior workers without testing them for typos and scoring errors may be another problem.
I wonder if the very elongate teeth of Sinocalliiopteryx somehow evolved into water straining structures in Deinocheirus. Only a transitional taxon with more, longer, thinner teeth or similar structures are ever found. It will also likely have a deeper mandible. Both taxa may have fed in water. A third taxon, Spinosaurus, is also considered a piscivore.
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Lee YN, Barsbold R, Currie PJ, Kobayashi Y, Lee HJ, Godefroit P, Escuillié F and Chinzorig T 2014. Resolving the long-standing enigmas of a giant ornithomimosaur Deinocheirus mirificus. Nature 515 (7526): 257–260.
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