Ankylosaurus was a heavily armored, plant-eating dinosaur of the late Cretaceous period. This article contains Ankylosaurus facts for kids and adults, and is part of our Dinosaur Facts Series. Let’s learn more about this distinctive dino …
Ankylosaurus Facts for Kids, Students and Adults
Despite being a herbivore (plant-eater), Ankylosaurus was a formidable animal. It weighed as much as 3 or 4 big cars, and was short, wide, and powerful. It had four horns on its head and a heavy club on the end of its tail.
Ankylosaurus’s body was covered with bony plates called scutes. These probably grew in rows along its back, and were embedded in the Ankylosaurus’s tough skin. Crocodiles today have similar scutes in their skin.
Parts of the Ankylosaurus’s skull were fused together for strength. This is what gives Ankylosaurus its name, which means ‘fused lizard’. If fact, Ankylosaurus’s skull was so protected that there was little room for a brain inside!
Ankylosaurus had a wide beak and rows of small teeth. This allowed it to graze on low-growing vegetation.
Ankylosaurus was built like a tank, and wouldn’t have been an easy meal for any predator brave (or hungry) enough to take it on.
While not as large as the huge sauropods such as Apatosaurus and Diplodocus, Ankylosaurus was still a very big animal. It wasn’t very tall, growing to 1.7 meters (5.6 feet) at the hip, but it was very long and wide – possibly almost as wide as it was tall.
Ankylosaurus grew up to around 10 meters (33 ft.) in length. It was extremely heavy for its size, weighing between 5 and 7 tonnes (5.5 and 7.7 short tons).
Ankylosaurus was the biggest of the group of dinosaurs known as the 'armored dinosaurs', which also includes stegosaurus.
By the late Cretaceous period, flowering plants had evolved. Ankylosaurus’s short legs and low mouth position would have allowed it to graze on vegetation growing on the ground. Its wide beak meant that it probably wasn’t very choosy about what went in, and it had a large tongue to move food around.
When Was Ankylosaurus Alive?
Ankylosaurus lived at the very end of the Cretaceous period. It was one of the last dinosaurs to have existed, before the Cretaceous–Paleogene Extinction Event wiped out the dinosaurs.
You can find out more about the extinction of the dinosaurs here When Did Dinosaurs Go Extinct?
Ankylosaurus was heavily protected and well-armed. However, it would have faced some extremely powerful predators, including one of the most deadly of them all: Tyrannosaurus Rex, which lived at the same time and in the same area.
Ankylosaurus Defense Mechanisms
Ankylosaurus may have used its tail as a club, smashing it into the legs of any predator that got too close. The vertebrae of the last portion of tail were fused together for strength, forming a ‘handle’ for the club.
Another possible use for the club would have been as a decoy. Predators may have aimed for the club, thinking that it was the Ankylosaurus’s head.
Where Did Ankylosaurus Live?
Ankylosaurus lived in what is now western North America.
The first Ankylosaurus to be discovered was found in 1906 in the Hell Creek Formation, a well-known dinosaur hotspot in Montana, USA. The incomplete specimen was found during an expedition led by the famous paleontologist Barnum Brown.
Brown formally described Ankylosaurus in 1908. He gave the specimen the species name Ankylosaurus magniventris, which means ‘fused lizard with great belly’.
Since Brown’s discovery, other Ankylosaurus specimens have been found in the USA and in Canada. However, a complete specimen is still to be discovered.
Ankylosaurus is in the Ornithischia order, and is a member of the Ankylosauridae family.
Members of the Ankylosauridae family, together with those belonging to the Stegosauridae family (which includes Stegosaurus), are part of group of dinosaurs called Thyreophora. This group is better known as the ‘armored dinosaurs’.
Top Ten Ankylosaurus Facts for Kids
- Ankylosaurus lived in the late Cretaceous period.
- Ankylosaurus has been found in north west USA and in Canada.
- Ankylosaurus is a member of a group of dinosaurs known as the ‘armored dinosaurs’.
- The fist Ankylosaurus fossil was discovered in 1906 by famous dinosaur hunter Barnum Brown.
- Brown named the Ankylosaurus in 1908. The genus name means ‘fused lizard’.
- Ankylosaurus grew up to around 10 metres (33 ft.) in length.
- It weighed between 5 and 7 tonnes (5.5 and 7.7 short tons).
- Ankylosaurus was covered in bony plates called scutes.
- Ankylosaurus’s primary weapon was a bony club on the end of its tail.
- Ankylosaurus was a herbivore that grazed on low-growing plants.
Ankylosaurus Facts for Kids, Students and Adults: Conclusion
We hope that you have enjoyed finding out about Ankylosaurus. Now that you know all about this plant-eating, tank-like dinosaur, why not discover more about dinosaurs and the Mesozoic Era?
You’ll find everything you need to know about dinosaurs here: Dinosaur Facts.
Find more information about common – and not so common – dinosaurs here: List of Dinosaurs.