The Ankylosaurus, whose name means Armored Lizard, is an ankylosaurid of which only one species is known. It lived 60 million years ago in the Upper Cretaceous period in North America, in fact it was one of the dinosaurs that lived until the mass extinction of the dinosaurs in the Tertiary Cretaceous. It had a skin that resembles armor and a kind of mallet on its tail, measuring up to 9 metres in length and weighing around 6 tonnes. It was a quadruped dinosaur with longer hind legs than the front ones, its body was rather low and very wide, it is believed that it could have five fingers on each leg. His head was a kind of triangle and was wider than long. It was a very particular and unusual dinosaur, for its structure and its armor, is one of the most interesting dinosaurs ever studied.
Barnum Brown was the one who gave it its name in 1908 and was discovered by Brown himself in Montana two years earlier. What they found was half a skull, some vertebrae, the ribs and of course the armor. Over the years their armor has been assigned to different dinosaurs but they have been separated and assigned correctly. One of the most important findings was in 1910 when Barum Brown himself found a third Ankylosaurus in the Scollard Formation, this time he found a skull, full armor and most importantly the first caudal mallet, this part of his tail totally changed the perception of this dinosaur. The largest known skull was found in 1947 in Alberta, Canada and over time many bones, teeth and parts of its armor have been found.
The Ankylosaurus was a herbivore this means that it ate plants. His teeth had the perfect shape to cut leaves, in fact his teeth are some of the smallest that have been found among the known dinosaurs, the Ankylosaurus did not have teeth grinders like other dinosaurs, which tells us that he did not chew much. What is thought is that the theory is that he ate plants that were within his reach and swallowed them almost completely; they were probably ground in his stomach with gastrophic stones that he swallowed on purpose to help him digest his food.
The Ankylosaurus has two things that make it special, first its armor and secondly the large mallet of its tail. In the first place is the armor that is made of bone plates that are called osteoderms and that were embedded in their skin, are something very similar to what crocodiles have, however these were extremely strong, hard and it was characteristic that they were of different sizes. Their plates went from the neck to the tail, were smooth and not thorny like other armor. It’s been theorized that he may have spikes embedded in his armor.
The second characteristic that makes it special is a kind of mallet in the tail, it was also composed of osteoderms, but in this case they were fused to form a base. Fortunately in the remains that have been found have also remained some of their tendons so it is known with certainty that it was not a rigid part, but extremely flexible and strong because it could work as a powerful weapon to balance it and hit any of its predators. Because of its size and flexibility it is believed that it could have caused a lot of impact or damage, even breaking some bones, however, for this you should be an adult completely, because the smaller ones would not have enough strength.
This dinosaur being so particular and having besides an armor and a powerful weapon in the tail, has been widely represented. It is usually not the main one of the film but it always has an important place, even just to be seen as it happened at the World’s Fair in New York in 1964 when a life-size model was presented. In the film In Search of the Enchanted Valley, he also has some appearances and in Jurassic Park including his video games. One of his best performances was in Extreme Dinosaurs. You can also find it in documentaries such as The Truth About Killer Dinosaurs and Walking with Dinosaurs.