Good Example Of Anklyosaurus Essay
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One of the most interesting large sized dinosaur is the Ankylosaurus. It is often compared to a modern day army tank or bus. The main interesting feature of the Anklysaurus is its heavy armor in its back and a large protusion in its tail which could be used in their defense or in attacking (Eberth 701). The word Anklyosaurus is a Greek term which means “fused lizard” (Castro n.p.). The name was given by Barnum Brown in 1908 who was an American Paleontologist. He named it Anklyosaurus due to its fused bones in most of its body parts especially in the skull. The thick armor which consists of oval plates of bones were also common to armadillos, crocodiles and other lizards (Carpenter 961).
In the discovery of the Anklyosaurus, it was thought to be a massive animal. It became a worldwide popular culture in 1908 due to its recognizable appearance and intense public interest about dinosaurs (Carpenter 961). It is recognized in the Japanese kaiju film Godzilla Raids Again in 1955 as the ancestor of the mutated monster “Anguirus”. In addition, it became very famous when a life-sized reconstruction of the Anklyosaurus was featured in 1964. However, in its reexamination in 2004, it was found that it is not massive although it is large dinosaur based on the modern standards (Eberth 701). The objective of this essay is to discuss the history, features, classification and paleoecology of the Anklyosaurus.
History of Discovery
In 1906, the first Anklyosaurus fossil was discovered in the Hell Creek Formation of Montana. It was discovered by the team of Barnum Brown when they are studying fossilization of dinosaurs. The fossil was incomplete and only includes top of the skull, the ribs, a shoulder girdle and a piece of armor believed to be located at its back (Carpenter 965). The osteoderms of the Anklyosaurus was discovered in 1912 also by Brown. However, he did not believed that it belonged to the same type of dinosaur. In 1910, he unearthed another set of the Anklyosaurus fossils which included ribs, limb bones, skull, tail club and armor (Castro n.p.). This discovery became the most important since it included the complete set of skull as well as the tail club and the armor. In 1947, the largest known skull of the Anklyosaurus was discovered by Charles Sternberg. These fossils are contained at the New York’s American Museum of Natural History (Eberth 701).
One major problem to the study of the Anklyosaurus is that there is no complete fossil that is unearthed to date. In addition, there are only three major specimens of the Anklyosaurus that have been discovered (Castro n.p.). There are many theories regarding its rare discovery. Some paleontologist suggests that the Anklyosaurus only lived in the upland environments in which fossilization is not conducive. It is also believed that it is not common in the ecosystem and did not populate during their time on earth (Carpenter 962).
The estimated length of the Anklyosaurus is about 9 meters and weighs up to 6 tons. The dinosaur is about as large as an army tank. However, in its reexamination in 2004, scientists suggests that the dinosaur could be smaller. The Anklyosaurus was estimated to be 6.25 meters long, 1.7 meters tall and 1.5 meters wide. The measurements come from the largest discovered skull of the Anklyosaurus (Carpenter 970). The Anklyosaurus walks with 4 feet and according to scientists, its forelimbs are shorter that its hind limbs (Castro n.p.). The structure of its feet is still unknown although some paleontologist suggests that it has five toes on each foot to support its body while walking. The suggested structure of its feet was based on its body structure in which it is low-slung and relatively wide (Eberth 705).
Its skull’s shape is like a triangle in which it is wider than it was long. The teeth that is discovered was relatively smaller than the suggested teeth of its body size. The Anklyosaurus is an herbivore since its small teeth is suitable for eating crops and grass. The skeletal structure of the Anklyosaurus is very strong since the bones in its body is fused. With the strong body structure, the dinosaur is expected to destroy or uproot a large tree just by colliding it (Carpenter 970).
The most interesting feature of the Anklyosaurus is its armor in its back. The back or the top of the Anklyosaurus is totally covered with the thick armor. The armor is composed of the outer layer of compact bones which are leaf-shaped. The inner layer of the compact bones are suggested to be composed of thick cancellous bones (Castro n.p.). The embedded bones in the top or back of the Anklyosaurus is called osteoderms which is also common to crocodiles, armadillo and other lizards. Some scientists suggests that the bone was protected by the horny layer of keratin which is also observable in the horns of the rhinoceros (Carpenter 454). The osteoderms were aligned in a regular horizontal rows. The large bones were protected by smaller bones at the side. The smaller bones are also protecting the limbs and the tail part of the Anklyosaurus (Carpenter 970).
Aside from the armor, the other interesting feature of the Anklyosaurus is the tail club. Its tail was composed of fused vertebrae or bones which form like a stiff rod at the base of the club. The structure is heavy since it is composed of thick layers of fused bones. In addition, there are also thick layers of tendons to support the structure (Castro n.p.). The structure of the tendons are not elastic which could destroy the bones of any animal when struck by the swing of the Anklyosaurus’ tail. The first proposed function of the tail club is for defense. It could be used to produce a devastating impact to the enemies of the Anklyosaurus. Another suggested function of the club tail is for attracting mates (Carpenter 971).
Some scientists suggests that even without these defensive structure, it is also difficult to kill by the predators (Carpenter 454). The body structure of the Anklyosaurus is relatively flat which makes it difficult to attack. Together with the armor and the tail club, scientists are now fascinated on how other dinosaurs could attack it. Its armor and tail club are the features which also made it popular to the dinosaur enthusiast. In the modern times, the Anklyosaurus is considered one of the most dangerous dinosaur even if it is an herbivore (Eberth 706).
Anklyosaurus is a genus type of the family Anklyosauridae. These genus type is also part of the larger taxon Anklyosauria. The exact position of the Anklyosaurus in the family Anklyosauridae is still not known. There are many suggestions on how to classify the Anklyosaurus. Some also believed that the Anklyosaurus and the Euoplocephalus shares the same taxa. Euoplocephalus is also a genus type which is considered to be the largest in the family Anklyosauridae. Other suggestions are also considered as long as it is based on the original fossil examination (Carpenter 971).
The Anklyosaurus are believed to be existed about 66-68 million years ago. Scientists believed that they walked the earth in the late Cretaceous period or the final Maastrichtian stage. The Anklyosaurus was also believed to be one of the last dinosaurs which appeared before the extinction event of the Cretaceous period. There are two major types of specimen of Anklyosaurus that is being studied. The first came from the Hell Creek formation in Montana and the other one came from the Lance Formation of Wyoming. Both of the specimen were dated to the late Cretaceous period (Eberth 706).
During the time of the living Anklyosaurus, the places of their discovery were warm and humid in climate. Many of the plant species in these period were supported by the climate condition of these places. According to scientists, Anklyosaurus only eat low lying plants. The digestive system of the Anklyosaurus is also believed to have the capability to break down large amounts of plants in a small amount of time (Carpenter 975).
The Anklyosaurus is one of the most popular dinosaurs in the modern times. Its popularity is due to the unusual features such as the armor and the tail club. Its defensive or offensive features make it fascinating for the people studying the dinosaurs. Although it could not be studied completely due to the lack of fossils, it did not stopped the paleontologists to understand it due to its fascinating structure.
Carpenter, Kenneth. Redescription of Ankylosaurus magniventris Brown 1908 (Ankylosauridae) from the Upper Cretaceous of the Western Interior of North America. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. 2004. Print.
Carpenter, Kenneth. The Armored Dinosaurs. Indiana University Press. 2001. Print.
Castro, Joseph. Ankylosaurus: Facts about the Armored Lizard. LiveScience. 2014. Web. http://www.livescience.com/25222-ankylosaurus.html.
Eberth, David. Dinosaur biostratigraphy of the Edmonton Group (Upper Cretaceous), Alberta, Canada: evidence for climate influence. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. 2013. Print.
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