How does an artist, and this is another problem of only having a baby or juvenile dinosaur to use as a model for a species, restore a baby dinosaur that has no record available of an adult of their species? Sketching out the death pose of the unfortunate little dinosaur is not too difficult considering it involves little more than tracing around the bones, but the skull of this nodosaur points to an adult that may, or may not, have been a great deal like the Late Cretaceous' nodosaurs that have been recovered from Montana and parts west of the Mississippi River. How might this unarmored infant have grown to appear as an adult when its skull was so very clearly that of a developing nodosaur and possessed many attributes found in later nodosaurs such as Panoplosaurus?
One method is to assume that it would look somewhat as it looked as an infant and simply copy the general body image but add a little dermal armoring. This statue, unfortunately, has no labels and no site of origin, so I cannot for sure say that it would be an artist's rendition of a slightly older, probably not adult but more of a subadult, Propanoplosaurus; however, it fits the general body type well and presents a suitable intermediate growth stage between a completely unarmored infant nodosaur and a fully armored adult nodosaur. The one thing that I have come to love about artists impressions of ankylosaurs and nodosaurs in the past few years that is missing here is the remarkable girth that these dinosaur families have been given in recent illustrations (this is one of my favorite ankylosaur images ever). I do remember a time when ankylosaurs were not so fat and I remember seeing the first of what are now many "wide-load" ankylosaurs and thinking that they looked ridiculous, but I am quite attached to that idea of them now. That said, it makes this skinny little nodosaur look strangely alien and almost like they were going for a hadrosaur, which may be the case; anyone with info on this statue share please!
Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institute
This image accompanies the fossil now on display in the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History; it is on the placard. Artist information is not available as far as I can tell and this, surprisingly, is not an image of an adult. This illustration of the baby Propanoplosaurus is an illustration of a baby Propanoplosaurus. The fossil showed no evidence of highly structured armoring on the infant, however there is obviously highly structured armor on this infant. The Smithsonian's "Dinosaurs in Our Backyard" website points out the same information and discrepancy between fossil and illustration and offers two hypotheses: 1) Baby nodosaurs are born without armor and 2) This baby nodosaur's skeleton and armored skin became separated prior to fossilization. I have to take issue with hypothesis number 2 on the grounds that anything ripping off the armored scutes and dermal armor of the infant after death- scavenger, water, wind, etc.- probably would have separated the skeletal elements to the four corners of the world as well as that armor was probably attached quite well, especially the bony skeletal protuberances at the shoulder pictured here. My support is with hypothesis 1 on this one.