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Euoplocephalus was a large armored dinosaur, measuring about 20 feet (6 m) long; it weighed about 2 tons. Its wide head had a horny, toothless beak, small, peg-like cheek teeth, bony horns, and a small brain.
Its entire top side was heavily protected from carnivores with thick, oval plates embedded (fused) in its leathery skin, rows of large spikes along its body, large horns that projected from the back of the head, and a raised, club-like tail. It even had bony plates as protection for its eyes and a pair of big spines on the sides of its head. Only its under-belly was unplated. Flipping it over was the only way to wound it.
Euoplocephalus had four short, sturdy legs (the rear legs were larger than the front legs), and a short neck.
Euoplocephalus may have travelled in herds.
WHEN EUOPLOCEPHALUS LIVED
Euoplocephalus lived during the late Cretaceous period, about 70-65 million years ago. Euoplocephalus and all the other dinosaurs (except birds) perished in the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction, 65 million years ago.
Among its contemporaries were the large meat-eating Tyrannosaurus, Tarbosaurus, and Deinonychus. Short of being flipped over, Euoplocephalus was well protected from these predators, and could even defend itself with its club-like tail.
This huge, extremely heavy reptile was an herbivore (it ate only plants). It had to eat a huge amount of low-lying plant material to sustain itself so its gut must have been very large. It may have had a fermentation compartment to aid in the digestion of the tough plant material, producing prodigious amounts of gas!
Euoplocephalus was an ankylosaur, whose brain small and whose intelligence (as measured by its relative brain to body weight, or EQ) was low among the dinosaurs.
Ankylosaur trackways were found in 1996 near Sucre, Bolivia, South America showing that these huge creatures could run at a "decent jog," according to Christian Meyer, a Swiss paleontologist working at the site. Speed estimates are made using the distance between the footprints, the animal's leg length, the pattern of the tracks, and other factors.
DISCOVERY OF FOSSILS
Over 40 Euoplocephalus fossils have been found in Alberta, Canada and Montana, USA. Euoplocephalus was named by Lawrence M. Lambe in 1910.
Euoplocephalus belonged to the Order Ornithischia, Suborder Thyreophora, and was an Ankylosaur (a group of tank-like armored dinosaurs that included Acanthopholis, Hylaeosaurus, Edmontonia, Sauropelta. It belonged to the family Ankylosauridae (ankylosaurs with tail clubs, triangular heads, thin, bony, oval shields, and small or absent spikes on their sides) which also included Amtosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Pinacosaurus, Saichania, Sauroplites, Talarurus, and Tarchia.
Euoplocephalus at the Royal Tyrrell Museum.
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