10 January 2014
Armor and Spikes
The Thyreophorans, Stegosaurs and Ankylosaurs, are noted to be heavily armored dinosaurs built equally for defensive and offensive capabilities with some specializing in one or the other end of that spectrum of abilities. One of those beautiful animals that has offensive and defensive capabilities and is alarmingly awe inspiring to look at is Sauropelta edwardsorum Ostrom 1970. Sauropelta was a fantastically imaginary dinosaur backed up by the fact of fossils. I say that only because its anatomical morphology almost makes Sauropelta appear to be an imaginary beast thought up by someone with a great imagination. The tail of this nodosaur was equal to approximately half the body length; a tail not used to counterbalance a long neck has other anatomical implications of course such as use as a weapon. The tail, being that of a nodosaur, was not particularly weaponized though. It, and the rest of the body, was covered in dermal scutes that are individual bony skin plates that have been recovered from a number of specimens. I mentioned that Sauropelta was not only defensively built and the shoulder and neck attest to this by possessing rather enormous (depending on the illustration/interpretation of fossils) shoulder and pro-pectoral spikes along the neck. There will be more discussion about these interpretations over the next week of course.