Discovery and speciesEdit
In 1991, two femora (thighbones), one from an adult and one from a juvenile, were found within a metre of each other at the Dinosaur Cove East site, in the small "Lake Copco" quarry, at the southern tip of Australia. The type species, Timimus hermani, was formally named and shortly described by Dr Thomas Rich and his wife Patricia Vickers-Rich in 1993/1994. The generic name means "Tim's Mimic" and combines the name of both the discoverers' son Timothy Rich and palaeontologist Tim Flannery with a Latin mimus, "mimic", a reference to the presumed affinity of the species with the Ornithomimosauria. The specific name honours volunteer John Herman who many years assisted the Dinosaur Cove project.
The holotype specimen, NMV P186303, was found in a layer of the Eumeralla Formation, dating to the Albian faunal stage in the early Cretaceous, some 106 million years ago. It consists of a left femur of an adult individual.
In 1994 Dr. Thomas Rich commented that while it would have been more ideal to have had the most complete specimen possible as a holotype, it was highly unlikely that future material of Timimus would be found, due to the limited nature of sites to be explored in the area. Also, the holotype would have had characteristics which both identified it as an ornithomimosaur and a new genus within that group. Thus the name would serve as a reference point for the material within paleontological literature. Rich stated: "By themselves, the names of dinosaurs are like telephone numbers - they are labels that go with specimens and the ideas that flow from the analysis of the material. Confusing labels, like an inaccurate telephone book, lead to an unworkable system, so one must be careful in putting names or labels on things. But the act of doing so is not creating those specimens or the ideas associated with them; it is merely creating a convenient "handle" for purposes of communication".
The second femur, that of a juvenile, was assigned as the paratype, specimen NMV P186323. Some vertebrae from the site have been referred to the species, as well as some other South Australian material.
The holotype thighbone is 44 centimetres long. From this a total length of the animal of 2.5 metres has been extrapolated. The slenderness of the bone suggest a lithe animal. The paratype femur is 19.5 centimetres long. The femora show several features that were considered diagnostic. There is no extensor groove between the condyles of the lower joint, which would have been a basal trait for an ornithomimosaur. The femoral head is anteroposteriorally flattened. The anterior trochanter is in a high position and reaches the level of the major trochanter.