- Genus/ Species: Ankylosaurus magniventris
- Conservation Status: Extinct
- Where Found: Western North America
Bony Plates, Spiked Tail
The Ankylosaurus inhabited the woodlands of North America during the late Cretaceous Period which existed between 70 and 65 million years ago. During this time, the Western United States had a warm, humid, near-tropical climate. This dinosaur can be compared to an armored car as it was low-slung, slow-moving, and covered with thick, nearly impenetrable armor. For protection from its enemies, these dinosaurs developed tough, scaly body armor, as well as spikes and bony plates. Some had dangerous clubs on the ends of their long tails that they swung at approaching carnivores.
The name Ankylosaurus is Greek for "fused lizards”. These dinosaurs were huge- around 30 feet in length, which is as long as or a little longer than a bus. They weighed around 5 tons or more. In spite of their impressive size, they were plant eaters. They spent their days grazing on low-lying vegetation. The Ankylosaurus had a beak and small teeth, which it used to browse on large quantities of plants. Though these dinosaurs had very few animals preying on them, the Ankylosaurus populations slowly but surely died out 65 million years ago.
Did You Know?
- The Ankylosaurus had to eat a huge amount of plants to survive. This meant that its gut must have been very large. It probably had a fermentation chamber to help the digestion of the tough plant material, producing prodigious amounts of gas!
- The armour of the Ankylosaurus was made up of "osteoderms," or "scutes." These were deeply embedded plates of bone that were covered by a thick layer of keratin, the same protein as is contained in human hair.
- It was nearly impossible to tip over an adult Ankylosaurus and dig into its soft belly because the dinosaur was built close to the ground, with a very low center of gravity.
- The Ankylosaurus had an unusually small brain. As a rule, slow, armored, plant-munching animals don't require much in the way of intelligence. This is because their defensive strategy consists mainly of flopping down on the ground!