STL Science Center

STL Science Center

29 September 2016

Famed Dinosaur

Ankylosaurus is a well known dinosaur. Appearing in many documentaries, movies, and in popular literature has allowed this dinosaur to become a common dinosaur name and introduced it to other aspects of the world. This includes video games and television shows as well as children's books and as the centerpiece, or an integral part, of many museum's dinosaur collections around the world. This last part seems a little odd since there are only three known skulls, but it is nonetheless true. In the most recent string of famous Ankylosaurus depictions, the Jurassic Park series, including Jurassic World, are probably some of the biggest portrayals of the dinosaur. However, long before this Ankylosaurus was featured in the 1980's cartoon Dinosaucers as a bad guy Ankylosaurus from space who was rather pig-like. One of my favorite adaptations of Ankylosaurus for popular media was in the Dinotopia series. James Gurney's world where dinosaurs and humans lived together portrayed ankylosaurs as benevolent dinosaurs that can carry large loads. In the miniseries that aired in 2002 a wild Ankylosaurus rampaged across the screen but was soothed by a young girl who discovered the dinosaur was suffering from a toothache. The story is a little Disney-like, but it is worth watching and it is one of the better depictions of Ankylosaurus.

28 September 2016

Ankylosaurus- The Skull

Photo by William Diller Matthew
There are three known Ankylosaurus skulls. Those three skulls are similar but have noticeable differences; the reigning idea is that the differences are taphonomic in nature rather than ontogenetic or species related. We know that Ankylosaurus has a large beak and small eyes and that the skull is covered in dense dermal bone and small crests and horns. Of particular note are the jugal horns that face ventrocaudally and give the skull a triangular appearance in lateral view. The teeth of Ankylosaurus comprised a large dental battery of up to 36 teeth per side of the mandible and 35 teeth per side in the maxilla. This may be slightly misleading as the only mandible known is from the smallest of the known specimens. There are many more aspects of the skulls that are interesting and strange, but the teeth of Ankylosaurus deserve some specific attention here. The teeth are leaf or spade shaped and mediolaterally compressed. The rostral and caudal margins are covered in serrated lobed denticles. The most caudal teeth appear to have curved caudally meaning that plant matter was processed by the teeth even up to the moment of swallowing.

Illustration by Barnum Brown

27 September 2016

Looking Back at Ankylosaurus

Sometimes one of the best things about writing this blog is that I notice that I somehow missed a famous dinosaur. Ankylosaurus has never appeared on this blog and I can therefore share any article without prefacing it with "we already read this but it is worth reading again" because I have yet to share any of them! Williston and Brown originally described the ankylosauridae with Brown receiving credit for the Ankylosaurus himself even though Williston actually published the description for Barnum Brown. Nearly 100 years later, 95 to be exact, Kenneth Carpenter re-examined and redescribed the Ankylosaurus remains of Brown and the subsequent finds since. Descriptions of the dinosaur are not the only interesting papers that have been posted online. There are also papers on Ankylosaurus forelimbs and the paleoenvironment in which they lived. In a very interesting but not unexpected progression, Carpenter and Coombs combined to discuss systematics of Ankylosaurus and it nearest relatives.

26 September 2016

Movies A-plenty

Ankylosaurus has shown up in so many movies and documentaries that listing them would take far longer than makes sense when I can simply share a small lump of them. The only problem is that a lot of Ankylosaurus videos is that they do not portray Ankylosaurus. Likewise, there are ankylosaurid videos that concern other taxa but rely heavily, or only actually depict, Ankylosaurus. Here are some videos that show and reference the correct dinosaur though:

25 September 2016

Ankylosaurus Facts

There are some random videos with Ankylosaurus facts. There is one that includes a song and some drooling theropods that can be watched at this link here. Fact pages are a little more heterogeneous. LiveScience has a higher level reading passage instead of a list of facts. As usual, Enchanted Learning has a list of facts and a link to a coloring sheet of Ankylosaurus. Other fact lists are hosted on ScienceKids and Mental Floss. Maybe the most entertaining video or list is the I'm A Dinosaur video:

24 September 2016

Ankylosaurus Astronaut

The dinosaur of the month on the calendar is Ankylosaurus. This dinosaur is one of the members of the Thyreophora, a group containing Stegosaurus and other armored dinosaurs. The genus Ankylosaurus contains a single species, Ankylosaurus magniventris, meaning "Fused lizard, great belly". Measuring approximately 6.25 m (20.5 ft) and weighing an estimated 6 tonnes (13,000 lbs) one would imagine that Ankylosaurus was a giant dinosaur. The length and weight are rather enormous; however, at approximately 1.7 m (5 ft 6 in) Ankylosaurus was shorter than the average man and only about 2 inches taller than the average woman.The astronaut illustration of this dinosaur is quite impressive despite its short stature, not that one has anything to do with the other!
©Brynn Metheney

23 September 2016


If you are at or near the University of Missouri on September 30th check this talk out: