Animantarx

Animantarx

 

Animantarx

Animantarx

Scientific Name: Animantarx ramaljonesi, meaning "living fortress"

Time Period: 102 to 99 million years ago, Early Cretaceous

 


The Prehistoric Museum is home to three mounted armor-plated ankylosaurs skeletons: Gastonia burgeiAnimantarx ramaljonesi, and Peloroplites cedromontanus. These skeletons were collected within 150 miles of the museum. They lived 130-100 million years ago, making eastern Utah one of the richest places for Early Cretaceous ankylosaurs. Their descendants became extinct 66 million years ago during the Great Dinosaur Die-off.

Ankylosaurs were four-legged, heavily armored dinosaurs. This armor consisted of spines or spikes along the sides of the neck, body and tail, and various sized keeled plates over the rest of the body. One group, called the ankylosaurids, had large plates that fused together to make a club on the end of the tail. Even the belly of ankylosaurs was armored, with marble-sized bone. Ankylosaur armor formed in the skin like it does in crocodiles.

The teeth are small for the size of the head and are best suited for eating plants. To help digest their food, ankylosaurs have a wide pelvis that holds an enormously large gut. Bacteria break down the plant, releasing the nutrients that are then absorbed. Many herbivores, such as elephants and cows, have a similar system.

AnimantarxAnimantarx is the first dinosaur to be discovered  by technology alone. Dinosaur bones are slightly radioactive and in 1999, Ramal Jones, a retired University of Utah radiologist, used a sensitive Geiger counter to accidentally discover the bones just below the ground surface. Not much is known about Animantarx considering that this is the only specimen known and not all of the skeleton was found. Ray Jones found the lower jaw, the back half of the skull, vertebrae from the neck and back and parts of both front and hind legs. These bones were enough to identify the little dinosaur as related to the gigantic Peloroplites. Both belong to the family Nodosauridae, the group of armoured dinosaurs characterized by a peculiar shoulder blade and no club on the end of the tail. Knowing this relationship, we can infer that Animantarx had rows of bone plates or armor embedded in its skin. Also, that it was a plant eater although we do not have its teeth. This information was then used to reconstruct the rest of the skeleton, with the missing bones modeled after closely related species.


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