Armored dinosaur with spiky head unveiled at Utah museum

This artist rendering from the Natural History Museum of Utah shows an ankylosaur, a squat plant-eater that was covered in bony armor from its spiky head to its clubbed tail, that has been unveiled at the museum in Salt Lake City. The ankylosaur, Latin name Akainacephalus johnsoni, roamed southern Utah on four legs about 76 million years ago, during the late Cretaceous Period. (Natural History Museum of Utah via AP

A dinosaur covered in bony armor from its spikey head to its clubbed tail is newest fossil addition to a Utah museum

SALT LAKE CITY — A dinosaur that was covered in bony armor from its spiky head to its clubbed tail has been unveiled at a museum in Utah.

The species of ankylosaur was a squat plant-eater that roamed southern Utah on four legs about 76 million years ago, during the late Cretaceous Period. At that time, the desert state was hot and humid, covered with slow-moving streams and rivers as well as large conifer trees, paleontologist Randall Irmis said.

It was about as long as a large alligator and stood at a height that would have been about waist-high for a tall human. It likely used its distinctive clubbed tail and armor for protection, though they could also have been used for display.

The fossil unveiled Thursday at the Natural History Museum of Utah was first discovered in 2008 in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a rich dinosaur repository in southern Utah.

The fossil was discovered on the Kaiparowits Formation, a thick layer of sandstone that also has vast coal reserves inside a sprawling national monument that was one of two President Donald Trump ordered downsized last year. The spot where the fossil was found remains within Grand Staircase-Escalante boundaries, though areas that are now outside the boundaries also have fossil potential, Irmis said.

Researchers were expecting it to have smooth bony armor on its skull like other North American ankylosaurs, but were surprised to find evidence that it instead had spiky armor on its head and snout, similar to fossils found in Asia.

Paleontologists believe the animals migrated to North America several times over the eons when lowered sea levels allowed them to cross a land bridge.

The species was dubbed Akainacephalus johnsoni to recognize Randy Johnson, a retired chemist and museum volunteer who spent hundreds of hours painstakingly freeing the skull from rock and debris.

Along with a complete skull, the fossil also includes the distinctive tail club, large parts of its spinal vertebral column and parts of its body armor, including two neck rings and spiked armor plates, the museum said in a statement.

Related News

8,000-year-old female figurine uncovered in central Turkey

Sep 15, 2016

Archaeologists have uncovered a rare stone figurine of a woman dating back 8,000 years at a dig in Turkey's central province of Konya that an expert says is one of only a handful of statuettes from that era ever found in one piece

Powell discusses secret Israeli nukes in leaked 2015 email

Sep 16, 2016

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed Israel's nuclear weapons capability with a friend in a private email exchange last year that hackers leaked this week

Watchdog to probe Comey's, FBI's actions before election

Jan 12, 2017

The Justice Department inspector general has opened an investigation into department and FBI actions before the election, including whether FBI Director James Comey followed established policies in the email investigation of Hillary Clinton

Peaple also read these

Samsung details causes of Note 7 fires but questions remain

Jan 23, 2017

Samsung Electronics says flaws in the design and production of batteries used in its Galaxy Note 7, not its hardware or software, made the smartphone prone to catching fire

Czech foreign minister: Emails hacked by foreign state

Jan 31, 2017

The Czech Republic's foreign minister said Tuesday that his email account and the accounts of dozens of ministry officials have been successfully hacked

Albania promotes its underwater archaeology, for tourism

Feb 13, 2017

Albania is promoting the archaeological finds in the waters off its southwest coast to raise public interest and to attract attention of decision-makers who can help preserve the discoveries.

About Us

Science Thread delivers quality and fascinating science and technology content that matters on a daily basis and makes it go viral.

Contact us: sales@sciencethread.com