"Fused, stiff, or bent Lizard" A Gaseous, Plated Plodder

Ankylosaurus printout

Simple Ankylosaurus printout

Brief Ankylosaurus Fact Sheet

ANATOMY Ankylosaurus was a huge armored dinosaur, measuring about 25-35 feet (7.5-10.7 m) long, 6 feet (1.8 m) wide and 4 feet (1.2 m) tall; it weighed roughly 3-4 tons.

Its entire top side was heavily protected from carnivores with thick, oval plates embedded (fused) in its leathery skin, 2 rows of spikes along its body, large horns that projected from the back of the head, and a club-like tail. It even had bony plates as protection for its eyes. Only its under-belly was unplated. Flipping it over was the only way to wound it.

Ankylosaurus had four short legs (the rear legs were larger than the front legs), a short neck, and a wide skull with a tiny brain. 

WHEN ANKYLOSAURUS LIVED Ankylosaurus was the last of the ankylosaurids (armored dinosaurs) to evolve, and the biggest. It lived in the lateCretaceous Period, about 70-65 million years ago. Ankylosaurus and all the other dinosaurs (except birds) perished in the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction, 65 million years ago.

Among its contemporaries were the large meat-eating Tyrannosaurus, Tarbosaurus, and Deinonychus. Short of being flipped over, the Ankylosaurus was well protected from these predators, and could even defend itself with its club-like tail.

DIET AND TEETH This huge, extremely heavy reptile was an herbivore (it ate only plants). It had to eat a huge amount of low-lying plant material to sustain itself so its gut must have been very large. It probably had a fermentation compartment to aid in the digestion of the tough plant material, producing prodigious amounts of gas! 

INTELLIGENCE Ankylosaurus was an ankylosaur, whose intelligence (as measured by its relative brain to body weight, or EQ) was low among the dinosaurs. 

LOCOMOTION Ankylosaur trackways were found in 1996 near Sucre, Bolivia, South America showing that these huge creatures could run at a "decent jog," according to Christian Meyer, a Swiss paleontologist working at the site. Speed estimates are made using the distance between the footprints, the animal's leg length, the pattern of the tracks, and other factors.

DISCOVERY OF FOSSILS Ankylosaurus fossils have been found in the western USA (Montana) and Canada (Alberta). Two Ankylosaurus skulls and three partial skeletons (including armor and a tail club) have been found. Ankylosaurus was named by Barnum Brown in 1908. Ankylosaur trackways were found near Sucre, Bolivia, South America.

CLASSIFICATION Ankylosaurus belonged to the:

  • Kingdom Animalia (animals)
  • Phylum Chordata (having a hollow nerve chord ending in a brain)
  • Class Archosauria (diapsids with socket-set teeth, etc.)
  • Order Ornithischia - bird-hipped, herbivorous dinosaurs
  • Suborder Thyreophora (Enoplosauria)
  • Superfamily Ankylosauria -it was the largest of this group of tank-like armored dinosaurs that includedAcanthopholisHylaeosaurus, Edmontonia, Sauropelta.
  • Family Ankylosauridae (ankylosaurs with tail clubs, triangular heads, thin, bony, oval shields, and small or absent spikes on their sides) which also included Amtosaurus, Euoplocephalus, Pinacosaurus, Saichania, Sauroplites, Talarurus, and Tarchia.
  • Genus Ankylosaurus
  • Species- the type species is A. magniventris (Brown, 1908).


ANKYLOSAURUS LINKS Ankylosaurus at the Royal Tyrrell Museum

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