|Model in Sandown, Isle of Wight, Photo ©Henry Burrows|
20 May 2017
During the past week I made mention of different types of ankylosaurs including their namesake group, nodosaurs, and polacanthids. This week to continue painting that picture and better understand what makes each kind of ankylosaur fit into that familial relationship, we will discuss the polacanthid Polacanthus foxii, the namesake of its subfamily. Polacanthus was originally discovered by the Reverend William Fox of the Isle of Wight in 1865; hence the specific epithet. This came about because the reverend, disliking a name given by Lord Alfred Tennyson (Euacanthus Vectianus), the first describer of the fossil, presented the fossil to Richard Owen with the new name in tow; this information is attributed to an anonymous pair of 1865 sources thought to be by Owen, Fox's own 1866 writings naming Owen, Huxley's 1867, and Hulke 1881. Regardless, Polacanthus was an ankylosaur of respectable size, measuring in at approximately 5 m (16 ft) and weight estimates of approximately 2 tonnes. Featuring armor and spikes similar to other ankylosaurs, Polacanthus was not a typical armored dinosaur and possessed unique armors, especially over the pelvis, that separated it from its closest relatives in unique ways.