The excellently-named Animantarx – meaning “living fortress” – a nodosaurid ankylosaur from the mid-Cretaceous of Utah, about 100 million years ago. It was fairly small compared to other ankylosaurs, estimated to have been about 3m long (~10ft).
Fossils in the area are naturally slightly radioactive, and the only known specimen of Animantarx was actually discovered entirely remotely using a scintillation counter. It was the first dinosaur to be detected via technology rather than human observation.
EDMONTONIA “From Edmonton” Late Cretaceous, 76.5-66 million years ago
Named after its discovery site in Canada’s Edmonton rock formation, Edmontonia was an armored, tank-like dinosaur. Its back was covered with bony plates (called ‘scutes’ or ‘osteoderms’), and it had sturdy, defensive spikes projecting from its shoulders. It was closely related to Ankylosaurus, though it lacked its relative’s signature clubbed tail. (It is widely accepted that a tail club would have rendered Edmontonia too violent to be Canadian.)
ANKYLOSAURUS “Stiffened lizard” Late Cretaceous, 66.5-66 million years ago
Ankylosaurus had tough skin covered with bony plates, or “osteoderms.”
Bones in its skull, body, and tail were fused together to increase strength – hence
its name: ‘stiffened lizard.’ Its massive clubbed tail could be used to attack
predators… or to fight other ankylosaurs. Several specimens exhibit signs of
bone trauma, likely sustained as the result of calling one other ‘stiffened
Kunbarrasaurus is Australia’s New Armoured Dinosaur
The re-analysis of an incredibly preserved fossil shows Australia had a variety of armoured dinosaurs.
by John Pickrell
IN 1989 A remarkably well-preserved dinosaur skeleton was found on an outback station near Richmond in north-western Queensland.
With more than 95 per cent of its bones, it was a spectacular
specimen – one of the most complete armoured ankylosaurs ever found, and
by far the most complete dinosaur from Australia, where dinosaur
remains are typically in scrappy condition.
In 1996, Dr Ralph Molnar at the Queensland Museum provisionally assigned the specimen as an existing kind of ankylosaur – Minmi, known from Roma in the south-west of the state – but the plan was always to study the fossil in more detail.
Most existing reconstructions and illustrations of Minmi
(such as the one above) have been based on this very complete fossil
from Richmond. But the results of the detailed analysis are finally in,
and they show that this animal isn’t Minmi at all, says Dr Steve Salisbury of the University of Queensland, a co-author of a new paper published today in the journal PeerJ…
While raptors are my namesake and all, the armored dinosaurs are an extremely close second. Maybe if I’d had an Ankylosaur toy to cherish instead of my Primal Rage Talon action figure, I’d be called Polacanthar or something. (Armadon doesn’t count, he was clearly ceratopsian.) Everyone always loved T-Rex; I loved the fact that T-Rex could get knocked toothless by something that didn’t really even have to move to do it.
Edmontonia is actually probably my all-time favorite, followed by Euplocephalous, but neither lived in the Early Cretaceous. However, Gastonia did, who was my favorite at the Utah Museum of Prehistoric Life. Sauropelta did, too, and both species appear in Mark of the Conifer. Gastonia has a lot of friggin’ spines to study; I’m glad I did like 5 scribbles of him while I had a skeleton to study.
Aside from the fact that this clade suffers from probably the worst “It belongs here! No wait … here!” arguments, there are a lot of cool theories surrounding the ankylos. Some think they may have had trunks or some other appendage on their noses, because they have such big, complex nasal chambers. I’m also well aware that I took some pretty dynamic liberties with how these things might have moved, but the fact that their armor isn’t attached to their skeleton just opens up too many worlds of cool to ignore.
The only things I’ll say NOT to reference is the spike patterns. Look at a real skeleton to make sure of how things looked; I was kinda random.
Recently I hung out with my pals, Brian Iwama & Kevin Seymour from Palaeontology, who were hard at work reinstalling our Ankylosaurus skull back into its case. Occasionally our palaeontology staff will remove specimens from display to take quality photographs to keep their files up to date and for use by colleagues outside of the Museum.
Hanging out with this behemoth was a fascinating experience. The skull is ridiculously heavy as it still houses much of the rock bed it was buried in, within its skull. Ankylosaurus was covered in dermal scutes (essentially armour like bones), which not only added to its heft, but also made it the tank of its time. The scutes are incredibly rough. If you’re not carefully you could easily scratch your skin against the surface.
What I found most amazing was the teeth. Ankylosaurus was a huge beast, whose armour and strong, clubbed tail provided it with weapons to wield against predators. But Ankylosaurus was also a peaceful giant that seemingly preferred to eat alone. What is startling is just how small and few teeth they had. Think of a child’s molar, an Ankylosaurus’ teeth were smaller. Further these teeth wore down fast from the tough low lying vegetation it ate. Many Ankylosaurus had few to little teeth left at the end of their life. But this specimen has a nearly full compliment!
It was great getting an opportunity to hang out with Brian and Kevin while they reinstalled the Ankylosaurus skull into the Dinosaur Gallery!
Demigirl Dracopelta is partially (but not wholly) female. This ankylosaur knows that, while they do not fit into either assigned category of male or female, their gender identity resonates enough with the female sex for them to partially associate with it - as a demigirl, your gender is not a choice, a feeling, an opinion, or a set of societal roles, but a legitimate identity that exists to better describe (and alleviate) any discomfort you may have toward your birth sex, and to more accurately pinpoint your internal sense of your true gender.
While most ankylosaurs thrived during the Cretaceous period, Dracopelta was the first to be recognized from the Late Jurassic, and is viewed as one of the earliest members of this group of armored dinosaurs.
EUOPLOCEPHALUS “Well-armed head” Late Cretaceous, 76.4-75.6 million years ago
An armored dinosaur like Ankylosaurus, Euoplocephalus (“well-armed head”) lived up to its named. In fact, most of its body was well-armed! Hardened scales called osteoderms
formed bands of flexible armor along its back, and its head and shoulders
featured defensive spikes. Meanwhile, its low, wide stance kept its vulnerable belly
close to the ground, and its heavy, clubbed tail warded off predators. It even
had armored eyelids! Whereas many herbivores traveled in herds for safety, Euoplocephalus’s iron-clad defenses allowed
it to safely push away its family and friends.
The original tank from Cretaceous North America! The last seven vertebrae in its tail supported its enormous club and some of its tendons were ossfied (bony) which could create a ridiculous amount of force upon impact. BREAKIN’ BONES, TAKIN’ NAMES.
The inspiration for my calligraphy here is still: Hartwig-Schrift
Hylaeosaurus is an actually fairly famous dinosaur - or at least, it should be - as it was one of the first dinosaurs to be discovered, and was one of the three dinosaurs Richard Owen based his definition of Dinosauria on. Not as famous as the other two, Megalosaurus and Iguanodon, but that is hardly its fault. Well, maybe it is - much of its anatomy is unknown. It lived about 136 million years ago, in the Valanginian age of the Early Cretaceous period. It was found in West Sussex, England, and has gone through a variety of interesting reconstructions. Given it was discovered in the early days of dinosaur paleontology, a good portion of its reconstructions are of it looking like a deformed lizard. The fact that it was closer to being a bird than a lizard was not a fact early discoverers were aware of. It would have been about five meters long, and had curved spines at the shoulder. It would have been a Nodosaur, the group of Ankylosaurs that did not have clubs at the ends of their tails, and a fairly basal one at that.