Ankylosaurus – the living tank

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Did you know?

Ankylosaurus’ giant tail-club is roughly the same weight as a man and can be swung in defence to fracture the bones of other animals.

Vital statistics

Length:                                           4.5m (about the length of a family saloon car)

Height:                                            approximately 1-3 metres at hip

Weight:                                           450kg

Discovery:                                     named 1943

Distinguishing features:        bipedal, slender forelimbs, domed skull fringed with spikes and knobs, spiky snout

 Chronotex field observations

Chronotex’s research shows these animals to be relatively social, with adults associating in groups of twos or threes and coming together to form larger groups during the breeding season. Ankylosaurus babies – called ‘scutelings’ by some experts – live together until they’re approximately half-size, after which they tend to become increasingly solitary.

While ankylosaur armour provides a defensive structure, affording these animals much­needed protection against huge predators like Tyrannosaurus, it appears to also play a role in sexual and social signalling, as well as in temperature control.

 Key facts

  • Gigantic quadrupedal, wide-bodied, armour-plated herbivore with horns
  • Giant tail-club is approximately same weight as a man, so can be swung with enough force to fracture bones of other animals
  • Small teeth suited to diet of leaves and fruit, although uses complex jaw actions when needed
  • Covered on much of its upper surface by large, flat armour plates with a microscopic structure reminiscent of Kevlar, and has protective bony shutters in its eyelids
  • Strong beaks, low to the ground, eats whatever it can get in its mouth, and has a huge hind gut
  • Not much room for its brain in skull case but a good sense of smell

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