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Dinosaurs are very large reptiles that roamed around the world some 250 million years ago. Since the first dinosaur was discovered in 1819, the race to uncover new dinosaur fossils has only become fiercer. One such dinosaur expedition resulted in the discovery of Nomingia, an oviraptorid dinosaur belonging to the Dinosauria and Theropoda clade. This dinosaur drew a lot of attention as it was the only dinosaur with a pygostyle at the time. For this reason, it can be easily compared to modern-day birds. The short tail and pygostyle made many people think that it was a large ferocious bird.
Their remains were first found in Nomingiin Gobi, Mongolia in 1994 and later named and described as Nomingia gobiensis (type species) in 2000 by Barsbold, Halszka Osmólska, Mahito Watabe, Philip Currie, and Khishigjaw Tsogtbaatar. It was initially considered a member Caenagnathidae but was later placed in the Oviraptorosauria subgroup by Barsbold.
Names of dinosaurs may seem like they are just random letters put together, but they carry a lot of significance and pronouncing them is not easy. This dinosaur was named by Barsbold, Halszka Osmólska, Mahito Watabe, Philip Currie, and Khishigjaw Tsogtbaatar. Nomingia pronunciation is 'noh-ming-ee-uh'.
Nomingia was an oviraptorid dinosaur belonging to the Dinosauria and Theropoda clade. It was an omnivorous dinosaur and its diet consisted of plants and meat.
The Nomingia lived during the Maastrichtian Age, the latest age of the Late Cretaceous period. It was one of the longest periods, lasting for almost 79 million years. This period is noteworthy as it was believed that the Pangaea split into continents during this time and this was when flowering plants and many other mammals first came to life.
Around 72-68 million years ago, the Nomingia was found inhabiting the planet. After the Cretaceous era, their entire population was wiped out. One of the extinction theories commonly accepted by almost all scientists is that a huge asteroid or comet nucleus collided with Earth, triggering a sequence of events that included volcanic eruptions that resulted in the extinction of Nomingia dinosaurs and numerous other dinosaurs.
The Nomingia lived in Asia. Many of their fossils have been found in places like Nomingiin Gobi (Mongolia).
Remnants of Nomingia, like the remains of numerous other dinosaur species, were discovered in the Bugin Tsav bed, indicating that they lived here. While this location now seems like a barren stretch of dry ground devoid of living creatures, this may not have been the case during the Cretaceous period. Some mussels remain suggesting that this location was once a large body of water with some luxuriant flora that existed 150 million years ago.
They lived a semi-solitary life and did co-occur with other species of ornithomimosaurs, therizinosaurs, hadrosaurs, and sauropods like Gallimimus, Therizinosaurus, Saurolophus, Tarchia, and Nemegtosaurus. Like modern-day birds, they roosted together.
Nomingia dinosaurs lived around 72-68 million years ago. The exact lifespan of this dinosaur is not known.
The Nomingia was an oviparous dinosaur, meaning it reproduced by depositing eggs. Dinosaurs were not the sort of reptiles that would just lay and leave the eggs. They cared for the young ones. Though many dinosaur eggs have been discovered, it is difficult to determine which ones belonged to which species. The dinosaur egg was first discovered in 1859 in southern France.
This dinosaur was an oviraptorosaur of medium size. At the tail end, it had a pygostyle consisting of five united vertebrae. This is a feature observed in birds. In birds, it helps to attach the tail feathers to their body and it might have had the same function in Nomingia as well. Nomingia gobiensis (type species) possessed beaked jaws and, most likely, a crest.
Nomingia's bone structure was extremely similar to that of birds. It's easy to relate this type of dinosaur to a modern-day ostrich. They had 24 caudal vertebrae, 18 transverse processes, and five fused pygostyle bones (fused tail vertebrae). The skull was rebuilt since it could not be discovered. Their feet bones were quite similar to those of the Elimisaurus. Not much information is available on the remainder of their bone structure.
The presence of tail feathers suggests that they could have used their feathers to entice females, similar to modern-day birds. They must have also utilized a lot of body motions mixed with few sounds as a mode of communication.
This dinosaur was a medium-sized theropod. It was 5.6 ft (1.4m) in length. The Nomingia height was 3.2 ft (0.9m) and it was two times bigger than a Trodon.
Despite the presence of tail feathers, this species was not known to fly. However, this does not imply that they were slow or sluggish. Theropods were fast-moving small to medium-sized dinosaurs. It was mainly due to their increased lung ventilation capacity coupled with low metabolic rates at rest, allowing them to save energy while moving fast without needing to catch their breath.
The weight of this dinosaur was around 44 lb (20 kg). It was seven times the weight of a Microvenator.
Oviraptorids may have shown sexual dimorphism, although evidence is minimal. Males and females do not have distinct names.
A baby Nomingia can be referred to as a chick or juvenile.
The diet of this dinosaur mainly consisted of meat and plants. They might have consumed small reptiles, amphibians, insects, and mammals. Whether dinosaurs were carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores and what their diet included is determined based on the teeth structure. Carnivores had very sharp teeth while herbivores had teeth that were used to grind and chew plant matter, similar to a cow.
Nomingias were up against predators twice their size, such as Dromaeosaurs, Troodontids, and Tyrannosaurs. This would have unquestionably needed a great deal of violence. Theropods were said to exhibit head or face biting behavior in an aggressive manner.
In birds, the pygostyle structure is mostly used to connect the tail of flying feathers. The pygostyle identified in the Nomingia dinosaur is thought to have performed comparable functions.
Nomingia gobiensis (Barsbold), a type species was the first dinosaur to be discovered with the pygostyle structure.
The names of dinosaurs, which appear complicated, are really based on simple details like physical appearances, the person who discovered it, or even the location where it was discovered. It was named by Barsbold, Halszka Osmólska, Mahito Watabe, Philip Currie, and Khishigjaw Tsogtbaatar. In the case of Nomingia, it was named after the place, Nomingiin Gobi, where its remains were first discovered.
The skull of Nominigia was only rebuilt from related species, therefore we know very little about their teeth structure and whether or not they would bite. Similar species, such as the Caudipteryx, have been reported to have weak teeth. Our idea is that Nomingia was both a plant feeder and a meat-eater, meaning their teeth were neither too feeble nor too strong. Most therapods lacked teeth, implying they didn't have a lot of biting force. We can conclude that they wouldn't bite, but they are, after all, dinosaurs.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Neimongosaurus facts and Variraptor facts for kids.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Lurdusauras coloring pages.
Second image by Jaime A. Headden