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Unveiling the Armored Behemoth: Ankylosaurus

Ah… the Ankylosaurus. An armored dinosaur that could take a beating from most predators. Imagine this — a dinosaur covered from head to tail in armor, essentially a living tank. It’s one of the most iconic dinosaurs of the late Cretaceous period, heck, of all time! Let us dive in and learn more about this amazing creature.

Discovery & Naming of Ankylosaurus

The first fossils of the Ankylosaurus, also commonly shortened to Anky, were found by Barnum Brown in 1906. The name comes from the words Ankylo and sauros. Ankylo means “fused” or “stiffened”, while “sauros” is a common ending for most dinosaurs, which means “lizard” or “reptile.” The name resembles its distinctive features of having its body covered in thick, bony plates that are ‘fused’ to its body.

Slate Weasel, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Physical Characteristics

This amazing dinosaur could reach up to 30 feet in length and was estimated to have weighed anywhere from 4 to 6 Tons, which translates to 8800 – 1300 pounds, on average. The armored plates on its body were known as osteoderms. They were not just decorations, but essential to its defense against predators. It may have helped regulate its body temperature too, but we will never know for sure, they’re extinct!

When Ankylosaurus was young, it likely had smaller, less developed armor plates, and as it grew, it got larger and thicker. While these plates were thick and tough, they also were a little bit flexible, to allow them to have easier movement and more freedom of body movements, while protecting themselves.

Their club tail, though, is extremely dangerous. If a human were to be struck by its tail, you would get broken bones, internal injuries, and severe tissue damage. It’s also possible that depending on where the tail struck you, it could kill you instantly. Even if they didn’t hit any vital parts of a human, it would likely still cause catastrophic injuries. You would not want to be on their bad side!

Lifestyle & Behaviors

The Ankylosaurus is an herbivore, and thus it likely ate bushes and plants close to the ground, since it wasn’t able to reach the trees like a sauropod. It is possible that its diet consisted of Conifers, Cycads, Ferns, and more. As for Conifers, which are trees, they would likely only have eaten those from fallen branches that broke off in one way or another.

Ankylosaurus’ defense mechanisms would likely have included crouching itself closer to the ground to protect its more vital organs, legs, and more. That way, predators would have a much harder time getting to its soft underbelly. It would swing that dangerous tail around and if it connected, could break the legs of predators, giving it a chance to get away.

The Anky’s Environment

This amazing dinosaur lived in forests and plains, most likely. It would have existed around the same time as the Tyrannosaurus Rex, which would be one of its predators. It also co-existed with the Triceratops, more than likely. It would have more than likely stayed near water sources, like watering holes, rivers, and similar. There was plenty of plant life around it that it could eat, so it would not have too many worries about food sources, and would probably have focused mostly on keeping its thirst at bay.

Ankylosaurus body design - DBCLS
DataBase Center for Life Science (DBCLS), CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pop Culture & Media

The ankylosaurus has been well-represented in media and pop culture. It makes a very brief appearance in Jurassic Park 3 (2001). It was more visible in movies such as Walking with Dinosaurs: The Movie (2013), and The Good Dinosaur (2015; Disney). Some TV shows that feature the Anky include Walking with Dinosaurs (1999), Dinosaur Train (2009 – present), and Terra Nova (2011).

It also is in some video games! Some of these include Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis (2003), ARK Survival Evolved (2015), ARK Survival Ascended (2023), Jurassic World Evolution (2018), The Isle, and Saurian. Some of Ankylosaurus’ sub-species are in games like Path of Titans, such as the Anodontosaurus. We do highly recommend checking out some of these games. You would likely be able to find one you enjoy!

Concluding Thoughts

This dinosaur, the Ankylosaurus from the Late Cretaceous, was certainly one to contend with. They had great defense, so they were hard to kill themselves, but they were also dangerous with that heavy-hitter clubbed tail that they had. Was the Ankylosaurus one of Kenson’s favorite dinosaurs? Not in the top 3, but certainly in his top 10!

We hope this post gave you something new that you didn’t know about this amazing dinosaur. Don’t forget to check out our Discord server so you can hang out with us!

Notes & References

  • Thumbnail Ankylosaurus by: Tim Evanson, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Kenson M

Kenson M

Owner of Mesozoic Haven since 2015, when it was previously known as Jurassic Kingdoms. Is a family-friendly content livestreamer and lives in Texas.View Author posts

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Honestly, I wasn’t a fan of the Ankylosaurus. This is because of its size. It’s too small for my liking if I’m being very truthful about its nature. Yes, it have a great defense mechanism but that’s not enough for me when you’re a beast in the wild.

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