In a film replete with iconic images, one of the most exhilarating of Jurassic Park’s scenes must be the stampeding Gallimimus. Gallimimus and closely related, superficially ostrich-like dinosaurs form the group Ornithomimidae. Now, a new species of ostrich-like dinosaur, dubbed Tototlmimus packardensis, has been discovered in northern Mexico.
Ornithomimids ranged across Asia and North America during the Late Cretaceous Epoch, 100.5 to 66.0 million years ago (see International Chronostratigraphic Chart).
With small, toothless heads, long necks, long arms festooned with feathers, and long legs, the ornithomimids resemble living ostriches and rheas. Ornithomimids are theropod dinosaurs, as are birds, but they are not closely related.
In western North America, the ornithomimids are represented by Ornithomimus and Struthiomimus. Now, paleontologists have named a new ornithomimid from northern Mexico.
The new species, Tototlmimus packardensis, has been named by a team led by Claudia Inés Serrano-Brañas of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City. The paper describing the new find has been published in the journal Cretaceous Research.
Although the only known skeleton is fragmentary, including parts of the hands and feet, enough is preserved to distinguish Tototlmimus from other ornithomimids. Tototlmimus has five unique anatomical details on the bones of its foot that set it apart from Ornithomimus, Struthiomimus, and other ornithomimids.
Tototlmimus lived around 72 million years ago. Its fossils were found farther south than most other ornithomimid remains from western North America.
“Tototlmimus packardensis is the first definitive ornithomimid described for Mexico, and represents one of the southernmost occurrences in the Western Interior Basin of North America,” write the authors.
The genus name Tototlmimus is derived from the Náhuatl word tototl, meaning “bird,” and the Greek word mimus, meaning “mimic.” The species name packardensis alludes to the Packard Shale Formation, the geological layer from which the fossil of the new dinosaur was collected.