STL Science Center

STL Science Center

07 June 2013

More Mimics

Photo by Scott Anselmo
Many mimics exist in the extant species list including spiders that appear as ants, birds that sound like other objects, and the list could continue all day long really. Mimics in the fossil record undoubtedly exist. The problem with finding mimics is that behavior and body forms that mimic other species are not things that fossilize; body forms that mimic definitely have a better chance than behavior being preserved of course. It is therefore a little interesting and at some points strange that so many dinosaurs are named mimics. Struthiomimus, Ornithomimus and this week's dinosaur, Suchomimus, are just a few examples. Suchomimus tenerensis (referred to alternatively at times as Baryonyx tenerensis) simply means "Crocodile mimic from Tenere [Desert of Niger]" and is considered a Baryonychinae Spinosaurid. To add to the confusion inherent in the morphology of the animal (its body is equal parts Spinosaurus and Baryonyx as well as features unique to its own named genus) Suchomimus may also be synonymous with Cristatusaurus, another Nigerian Spinosaurid. This is going to be a conundrum of a dinosaur this week and I will spend a good amount of time highlighting what made some think it was a new species of Baryonyx, how it is similar to its northern neighbor Spinosaurus, and what makes Suchomimus a Suchomimus. These types of weeks are some of my favorites because we have to get deep into the science and history of the animal in question. Stay tuned!

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