Erlikosaurus was discovered in the late
1970s and was described by Barsbold & Perle in 1980.
This dinosaur is named after Erlik, the king of the dead in Mongolian
mythology. It is a member of the strange
therizinosaur family. Erlikosaurus looked more like Deinonychus in
size, but had longer arms and smaller teeth.
The only known
therizinosaur skull is that of Erlikosaurus. It
looks very much like the skulls of some of the big plant-eating
dinosaurs. It's teeth are small and leaf shaped, more suitable for
eating plants than meat. Of special interest is its toothless
beak, which looks like that of a bird. This species was probably
the most primitive of the raised-up
therizinosaurs, as the back vertebrae are designed to lift an animal
almost upright position. The tail and legs were short, and more
designed for a "couch potato" lifestyle than that of a predator.
It may have been a herbivore that sat quietly under trees and used its
giant claws to pull vegetation to its mouth. Some scientists have suggested that
its feet might have been webbed for swimming and that it ate fish.
Others think that the long claws were used for digging in the ground,
possibly looking for large insects or the small mammals that lived
Dr. Philip Currie of the Royal Tyrrell
Paleontology Museum in Alberta said that material found in Canada in
the late 1970?s and previously attributed to a theropod species may in
fact belong to Erlikosaurus.