Prehistoric Animals


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The last and largest of all armored dinosaurs, Ankylosaurus has been found in some of the youngest dinosaur fossil beds. With a massive stick-shaped tail and armor, this loner did not fear most of the surrounding predators. The Ankylosaurus has given its name to the group to which it belongs and owes its name to the bone nature of its particularly rigid skeleton. The head was covered with a thick layer of bone plates and spikes, the back and the tail were covered by bony shields that intertwined and the vertebrae at the end of the tail were welded together by the bones. This heavy, club-shaped bony tail was like a demolition ball and could inflict serious damage to any predator. Despite its weight, the club did not touch the ground: indeed, no Ankylosaurus track (or close relatives) shows traces of tail dragged on the ground. Like its close relative, the Euoplocephalus, it had a complex system of channels inside the skull. It is also possible that they were used to heat the air, thus recovering water from the exhaled air or improving the sense of smell. It is also possible that they have been used as a resonance chamber, helping the animal to make distress calls. The Ankylosaurus is one of many dinosaurs discovered and named by the famous paleontologist Barnum Brown. It is in 1910 that the latter found a particular specimen which is today exposed at the New York Museum of Natural History. Since he did not have time to exhume the fossil himself, he paid local farmers to do it for him. A year later, the owners of the ranch had excavated about 900 m3 of hard sandstone mainly by hands, but sometimes also with the help of dynamite. Despite these amazing efforts, only a partial specimen was recovered.