With a short, light body and long back legs, Gallimimus was a fast-running dinosaur. It took very long strides and could outrun most predators. It looked like a large ostrich with its long neck and toothless beak. Its stiff tail helped it to balance when running.
The ornithomimid featured in the film Jurassic Park was Gallimimus. It was a fairly good representation, except that it is now thought that these animals were covered in feathers, which would make sense if they were to be as active as they were portrayed in the film. There are skeletons of juveniles that have allowed scientists to study the growth pattern of ornithomimids in general.
Name: Gallimimus, meaning ‘chicken mimic’
Size: 6m long and 3m high
Food: plants, eggs, insects and lizards
Lived: about 70 million years ago in the Cretaceous Period in Mongolia
Gallimimus is the largest known type of ornithomimid, but it has shorter arms in proportion to the other species. The hands, too, are quite small and the fingers are not very flexible. The head is quite long and graceful and, as in nearly all ornithomimids, the jaws have no teeth. The beak of the lower jaw is shovel-shaped, and the big eyes are situated on the sides of the head, so it did not have binocular vision.
Like the other ostrich mimics and modern birds, Gallimimus had hollow bones. This device allowed for a reduction of weight in the body, without reducing the strength, and enabled the animal to move quickly. The main difference between the two known Gallimimus species is the shape of the fingers. G. mongoliensis had shorter hands and would not have grasped as well.
Gallimimus had short arms with three claws on its hands. The claws were sharp, but Gallimimus could not grasp things very well and did not eat meat because it could not tear it up.
Gallimimus’ claws came in very useful, however, because it used them to scrape away at the soil to dig up eggs for food. It ate mostly plants, but it also fed on small insects, which it grabbed in its beak, and even chased lizards.