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Ankylosaur summer

Royal Tyrrell Museum ankylosaur. Photo by Travis S.

A cast of an armoured-dinosaur ankylosaur skeleton takes a tail-swing at an albertosaur at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology.

Trackways #15, Fall 1998—In the world of palaeontology, ankylosaurs remain one of the Big Mysteries. The enigma stems from a lack of specimens to provide answers. Especially rare are good fossils from Alberta—that is, until this past season, the summer of ankylosaurs.

This year, researchers found eight specimens of the elusive armoured dinosaurs at Dinosaur Provincial Park. In just three months, the Tyrrell acquired the world’s most extensive fossil collection of these strange-looking, tank-like animals.

Among the finds are five skulls, raising the number of ankylosaur skulls in the museum’s collection to 14. These represent three known species, while one skull has yet to be identified. A skull provides the most information about the dinosaur it belongs to—its species, age, diet, and size. Since the first fossils were collected in Dinosaur Provincial Park more than a century ago, only 24 ankylosaur skulls have been discovered.

Now more than half of them rest in the Tyrrell’s care.

The ankylosaur windfall will help museum palaeontologists better understand how these unusual animals lived and how the different species were related to one another and to other dinosaurs. The new materials will also provide data on ankylosaur diversity, populations, and what roles ankylosaurs played within their Late Cretaceous ecosystems.

Ankylosaur armour. Photo by S. Mair.

Cobbles of bone lining its back provided the basis of ankylosaur armour.

© Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology 1998

One Thought on “Ankylosaur summer

  1. scott mair on 10 July 2012 at 1:07 pm said:

    I really enjoyed this the first time i read it – it was nice to see it again.

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