This is a dinosaur I never heard of when I was a kid, probably because its discoverer thought it might’ve been a giant turtle.
All they’ve got are a few bones, including an extra-wide pelvis, and those enormous claws. If you think the reconstruction above looks rather fanciful, welcome to the club. There’s no skull, no teeth, so it’s not possible to guess what this creature ate.
Therizenosaurus means “scythe lizard,” named for the claws. How they were used, who knows? Someone suggested, for digging into termite mounds for yum-yums. But it would take an awful lot of termites to feed this baby, several times the size of a grown man. Maybe Therizenosaurus went around like Freddy Kreuger in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, using the claws to commit murder. We just don’t know. The few fossils that we have come from Mongolia and northern China; and except for the claws, it’s all just bits and pieces.
Bob Bakker, the scientist who did more than any other to popularize the notion of dinosaurs as active, complex, and reasonably intelligent creatures, rather than just these big lumps of stupidity that hung around in swamps, once told me he thought God created dinosaurs because He took delight in them. I would guess God had a blast, creating these. And He is probably amused–tenderly!–by our efforts to figure out the fossils.
Maybe someday He’ll let us see these animals as they really were.