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Temporal range: Late Cretaceous
Struthiomimus altus by julio lacerda
An artist's (Julio Lacerda) illustration of Struthiomimus altus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Superorder: Dinosauria
Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Theropoda
Family: Ornithomimidae
Genus: Struthiomimus
Osborn, 1917
Species: S. altus
Binomial name
Struthiomimus altus
Lambe, 1902

Struthiomimus (meaning "ostrich mimic", from the Greek στρούθειος/stroutheios meaning "of the ostrich

" and μῖμος/mimos meaning "mimic" or "imitator") is a genus of ornithomimid dinosaurs from the late Cretaceous of Alberta, Canada, and Wyoming, USA. Ornithomimids were long-legged, bipedal, ostrich-like dinosaurs with toothless beaks. The genus Struthiomimus currently contains three species.[1] The most well-known species, Struthiomimus altus, is one of the more common small dinosaurs found in Dinosaur Provincial Park; its abundance suggests that these animals were herbivores or omnivores rather than pure carnivores.[2]

Like many other dinosaurs discovered in the 19th century, the history of the various Struthiomimus species is convoluted. The first known fossils of were named Ornithomimus sedens by Othniel Charles Marsh in 1892, and a subsequent species was named O. altus by Lawrence Lambe in 1902. It wasn't until 1917 that Henry Fairfield Osborn named Struthiomimus from fossils discovered in 1914 from the Red Deer River site in Alberta.

A long, slender, flexible neck made it easy to pick up seeds and seize small animals.


Struthiomimus BW

Life restoration of S. altus

All species of Struthiomimus had builds and skeletal structure typical of an ornithomimid, differing from closely related genera like Ornithomimus and Gallimimus in proportions and anatomical details.[3] As with other ornithomimids, they had small slender heads on long necks (which made up about 40% of the length of the body in front of the hips).[4] Their eyes were large and their jaws were toothless. Their vertebral columns consisted of ten neck vertebrae, thirteen back vertebrae, six hip vertebrae, and about thirty-five tail vertebrae.[5] Their tails were relatively stiff and probably used for balance.[6] They had long slender arms and hands, with immobile forearm bones and limited opposability between the first finger and the other two.[7] As in other ornithomimids but unusually among theropods, the three fingers were roughly the same length, and the claws were only slightly curved; Henry Fairfield Osborn, describing a skeleton of S. altus in 1917, compared the arm to that of a sloth.[6]

Struthiomimus differed from close relatives only in subtle aspects of anatomy. The edge of the upper beak was concave in Struthiomimus, unlike Ornithomimus, which had straight beak edges.[1] Struthiomimus had longer hands relative to the humerus than other ornithomimids, with particularly long claws.[4] Their forelimbs were more robust than in the similar Ornithomimus.[1]


The type species, S. altus, is known from several skeletons and skulls,[4] and its size is estimated as about 4.3 metres (14 ft) long and 1.4 metres (4.6 ft) tall at the hips, with a weight of around 150 kilograms (330 lb).[8] Fossil remains of S. altus are only known definitively from the Dinosaur Park Formation, dated to about 75 million years ago during the Campanian stage of the late Cretaceous period.[1] A younger species (which has not yet been named), which apparently differed from S. altus in having longer, more slender hands, is known from several specimens found in the Horseshoe Canyon Formation, dated to about 70 million years ago (early Maastrichtian).[1] A third, even younger species, S. sedens, is known from the late Maastrichtian Lance Formation and Hell Creek Formation, dated to about 66 million years ago. S. sedens is also the largest Struthiomimus, similar to Gallimimus in size,[1] and measuring about 5 metres (16 ft) in length.[9]

Discovery and history of study[]

In 1901, Lawrence Lambe found some incomplete remains, holotype CMN 930, and named them Ornithomimus altus, placing them in the same genus as material earlier described by Othniel Charles Marsh in 1890. The specific name altus is from Latin, meaning "lofty" or "noble". However, in 1914, a nearly complete skeleton was discovered by Barnum Brown at the Red Deer River site in Alberta, and officially described as the subgenus Struthiomimus by Henry Fairfield Osborn in 1917. Osborn complicated matters by assigning the better specimen, AMNH 5339, as the genoholotype.[6] Dale Russell made Struthiomimus a full genus in 1972, at the same time referring several other specimens to it: AMNH 5375, AMNH 5385, AMNH 5421, CMN 8897, CMN 8902 en ROM 1790, all partial skeletons.[10] In 1916 Osborn also renamed Ornithomimus tenuis Marsh 1890 into a Struthiomimus tenuis.[6] This is today considered a nomen dubium.


An early restoration of S. altus published in the magazine Natural History, 1921

In subsequent years William Arthur Parks named four other species of Struthiomimus: Struthiomimus brevetertius Parks 1926,[11] Struthiomimus samueli Parks 1928,[12] Struthiomimus currellii Parks 1933 and Struthiomimus ingens Parks 1933.[13] These are today seen as either belonging to Dromiceiomimus or to Ornithomimus.

In 1997 Donald Glut mentioned the name Struthiomimus lonzeensis.[14] This was probably a lapsus calami, a mistake for Ornithomimus lonzeensis (Dollo 1903) Kuhn 1965.

Struthiomimus altus comes from the Late Campanian (Judithian age) Dinosaur Park Formation. A species of Struthiomimus is also known from the Late Campanian/Early Maastrichtian (Edmontonian age) Horseshoe Canyon Formation.[1] Because dinosaur fauna show rapid turnover, it is possible that these younger Struthiomimus specimens will prove to be a species distinct from S. altus, though no new name has been given to them. Struthiomimus specimens from the Hell Creek Formation (Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota) are larger (similar to Gallimimus in size) and tend to have straighter and more elongate hand claws, similar to those seen in Ornithomimus. They most likely represent a separate species of Struthiomimus, in 2001 by James Orville Farlow named Struthiomimus sedens[15] (again, originally named as a species of Ornithomimus by Marsh, in 1892).[1][16]

In 2010 Gregory S. Paul renamed Ornithomimus edmontonicus Sternberg 1933 into a Struthiomimus edmontonicus,[17] but this has found no acceptance by other workers.


Struthiomimus is a member of the family Ornithomimidae, a group which also includes Anserimimus, Archaeornithomimus, Dromiceiomimus, Gallimimus, Ornithomimus, and Sinornithomimus.

Just as the fossil remains of Struthiomimus were incorrectly assigned to Ornithomimus, the larger group that Struthiomimus belongs to, the Ornithomimosauria, also underwent many changes over the years. For example, O.C. Marsh initially included Struthiomimus in the Ornithopoda, a large clade of dinosaurs not closely related to theropods.[18] Five years later, Marsh classified Struthiomimus in the Ceratosauria.[19][20] In 1891, Baur placed the genus within Iguanodontia.[21] As late as 1993, Struthiomimus was referred to Oviraptorosauria.[22] However, by the 1990s, there were numerous studies that placed Struthiomimus within Coelurosauria.[23][24][25][26]

Recognizing the difference between ornithomimids and other theropods, Rinchen Barsbold placed ornithomimids within their own infraorder, Ornithomimosauria, in 1976.[27] The constituency of Ornithomimidae and Ornithomimosauria varied with different authors. Paul Sereno, for example, used Ornithomimidae to include all ornithomimosaurians in 1998, but subsequently changed to a more exclusive definition (advanced ornithomimosaurs) within Ornithomimosauria,[28] a classification scheme that was adopted by other authors at the beginning of the current century.

The cladogram follows the 2011 analysis by Xu et al.:[29]














In a 2001 study conducted by Bruce Rothschild and other paleontologists, fifty foot bones referred to Struthiomimus were examined for signs of stress fracture, but none were found.[30]

Struthiomimus was one of the first theropods envisioned from the outset as having a horizontal posture. Osborn in 1916 let the animal intentionally be depicted with an elevated tail.[6] This newer view created an image much more reminiscent of modern flightless birds, such as the ostrich to which this dinosaur's name refers, but would only much later be accepted for all theropods.


There has been much discussion about the feeding habits of Struthiomimus. Because of its straight-edged beak, Struthiomimus may have been an omnivore. Some theories suggest that it may have been a shore-dweller and may have been a filter feeder.[5] Some paleontologists noted that it was more likely to be a carnivore because it is classified within the otherwise carnivorous theropod group.[10][31] This theory has never been discounted, but Osborn, who described and named the dinosaur, proposed that it probably ate buds and shoots from trees, shrubs and other plants,[3] using its forelimbs to grasp branches and its long neck to enable it accurately to select particular items. This herbivorous diet is further supported by the unusual structure of its hands. The second and third fingers were of equal length, could not function independently, and were probably bound together by skin as a single unit. The structure of the shoulder girdle did not allow a high elevation of the arm nor was optimised for a low reach. The hand could not be fully flexed for a grasping motion or spread for raking. This indicates that the hand was used as a "hook" or "clamp", for bringing branches or fern fronds at shoulder height within reach.[7]


The legs (hind limbs) of Struthiomimus were long, powerful and seemingly well-suited to rapid running, much like an ostrich. The supposed speed of Struthiomimus was, in fact, its main defense from predators (although it may also have been able to lash out with its hind claws when cornered), such as the dromaeosaurids (e.g. Saurornitholestes and Dromaeosaurus) and tyrannosaurs (e.g. Daspletosaurus, Gorgosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex), which lived at the same time. It is estimated to have been able to run at speeds between 50 to 80 km/h (31 to 50 mph).[32]

In the Media[]

  • A pair of Struthiomimus are seen in a 1978 Stop Motion Sci Fi Film Planet of Dinosaurs.
  • One Struthiomimus appeared in Phil Tippet's Mid 1980 Go Motion/Stop Motion Project Prehistoric Beast and Dinosaur!.
  • It appeared in the episode of the 4 part PBS documentary program The Dinosaurs! "The Death of the Dinosaurs", when some of the Struthiomimus were eating eggs of a reptile nest and then watched the sky seeing an asteroid about to crash into Earth causing the dinosaur extinction.
  • They also made a some appearances in The Land Before Time film series, two in particular Ozzy and Strut are the main villains in the second movie
  • They also made an appearance in Animated/Live Action 2000 Disney Film, Dinosaur (movie).
  • Struthomimus has been confirmed to appear in Jurassic World: Evolution. It is the first dinosaur species that players get in their parks. The main skin is mainly brown with a white underbelly, arms, neck and head, and darker brown stripes all over the sides of the dinosaur and a faint blue on the top of the head just behind the eye. It is inaccurately depicted as a herbivore, when it, in real life, is an omnivore. This is possibly due to their limitations that resemble a herbivore.
  • Struthiomimus is shown in Dinosaur King.
  • They also made an appearance as one of the 18 original playable dinosaurs in the video game Path of Titans.





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  2. Barrett, Paul M. (2005). "The diet of ostrich dinosaurs (Theropoda: Ornithomimosauria)". Palaeontology 48 (2), 347–358. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4983.2005.00448.x
  3. 3.0 3.1 Paul, Gregory S. (1988). "Genus Ornithomimus". Predatory Dinosaurs of the World. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 384–394. ISBN 0-671-61946-2. 
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  30. Rothschild, B., Tanke, D. H., and Ford, T. L., 2001, Theropod stress fractures and tendon avulsions as a clue to activity: In: Mesozoic Vertebrate Life, edited by Tanke, D. H., and Carpenter, K., Indiana University Press, p. 331-336.
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  32. Paul, regarding his comparative speed estimates, notes that "... just how swift is swift? In hard, precise measure, this can be a real can of worms; for just how fast living animals run is not well known." (Paul, G.S. 1988. Predatory Dinosaurs of the World. New York: Simon & Schuster.)
  • Russell, D. A. (1969). "A new specimen of Stenonychosaurus from the Oldman Formation (Cretaceous) of Alberta". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 6: 595-612.
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  • Reisdorf, A.G., and Wuttke, M. 2012. Re-evaluating Moodie's Opisthotonic-Posture Hypothesis in fossil vertebrates. Part I: Reptiles - The taphonomy of the bipedal dinosaurs Compsognathus longipes and Juravenator starki from the Solnhofen Archipelago (Jurassic, Germany). Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments, doi:10.1007/s12549-011-0068-y