Ankylosaurus Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Sarah Caughron

Sarah has a master's degree in Applied Anthropology/Archaeology and has worked in formal and informal education since 2006.

Stomping through the forest 65 million years ago was a dinosaur as impenetrable and tough as a modern tank! Read on to learn about the habits and special armor of the ankylosaurus.

What is an Ankylosaurus?

The ankylosaurus was a dinosaur that lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, about 65 million years ago. This was just before the mass extinction of dinosaurs, and that means the ankylosaurus was one of the last types of dinosaurs that roamed the earth. They lived at the same time as one of their most famous predators, the Tyrannosaurus rex.

Ankylosaurs were armored dinosaurs with club-like tails.

An ankylosaurus was between 25-35 feet in length and around 13,000 pounds, making it shorter than a school bus and about the same weight as a large African elephant. The ankylosaurus was an herbivore, and its diet consisted of low plants because they stood very low (only about 5.5 feet at the hips) compared to their length. They were very wide animals (almost 5 feet) compared to their height. Think of a large crocodile or a komodo dragon.

When compared to other vegetarian dinosaurs like horned and duckbilled dinosaurs, the ankylosaurus had very few teeth. Essentially, the ankylosaurus would strip plants of their leaves. They didn't have any teeth to grind the leaves, and it is thought that they had a special digestive system that would break down the thick leaves they were eating.

Fossils of this dinosaur have been found in the Western United States and the fossil-rich areas of Alberta, Canada.

Ankylosaurus tooth
Ankylosaurus tooth

What's in a Name?

Ankylosaurus means 'fused lizard,' and it gets this name from the bony plates of armor lining the dinosaur's body. These bony plates are called scutes, and this body armor might remind you of those found on an armadillo or an alligator. You can imagine how useful this protection would be when trying to fend off attacks from predators like 'T. rex'.

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