Dinosaurs were truly remarkable beasts that pushed the boundaries of evolution. These magnificent animals come in various appearances, from the giant long-necked ones like the Diplodocus to the bipedal killing machines like the Tyrannosaurus. Then there are the spiked and armored beasts with massive club-like tails like the Euoplocephalus. In this post, you’ll discover fascinating facts about the dinosaur with spikes, a clubbed tail, and thick armor.
What Did The Euoplocephalus Look Like?
The name Euoplocephalus means “well-armed head.” The name is a reference to the strange appearance of this dinosaur. The Euoplocephalus is a member of the Ankylosaur family.
Members of this family typically have a large, stocky build and armor-plated bodies. Like Ankylosaurs, the body of the Euoplocephalus had a thick armor form of bone plating that offered effective protection against predators.
However, one major difference between this dinosaur and the rest of the Ankylosaur is that the bone-plated armor also covered its head. In addition to the armored head, the other end of this dinosaur’s body was just as fearsome. It had a tail that looked a lot like a giant club or mace.
The Euoplocephalus was probably around the same size as a Rhinoceros, but it would have been much heavier considering the bony plates. In the Ankylosaur family, it was one of the largest, comparable in size only to the Ankylosaurus, Tarchia, and Cedarpelta. The Euoplocephalus had a length of about 5.5 meters (18ft) and was about 2.4 meters (7.9ft) wide. It must have weighed about 2.5 tons. This dinosaur had a board and flat torso. It was just about four feet high with short legs that could easily fold under its armored body.
How The Euoplocephalus Protected Itself with Spikes, a Clubbed Tail, and Thick Armor
The armored head and massive tail of the Euoplocephalus played an important role in protecting this dinosaur against predators. Scientists believed this dinosaur could lay down and pull its limbs under the bony plates to protect it from predators. The neck area had two bony rings that protected it. Scientists also found that this dinosaur had palpebral bones covering the eyes, which may have provided additional protection.
The dinosaur’s tail packed a punch as well. It could swing its tail at a predator either as an intimidation tactic or use it as an actual weapon that could inflict serious damage on the attacker.
The Euoplocephalus may have traveled in groups, another adaptation that would have worked to its advantage in terms of protection. It formed a symbiotic relationship with the Iguanodonts, another group of herbivorous dinosaurs. Herding together with the Iguanodonts this way most likely provided strength in numbers that helped keep their populations protected. However, there’s very limited evidence to support claims that they formed clusters.
Considering the massive size of this dinosaur and the bone-plated body, the apex predators that lived during the Late Cretaceous period in North America, like the Tyrannosaurus Rex, would have had a bit of a hard time overpowering the Euoplocephalus. This tank-like dinosaur would have given it a good fight.
What Did The Euoplocephalus Feed On?
Scientists consider the Euoplocephalus, as well as other ankylosaurids, to have been herbivorous dinosaurs. However, it isn’t exactly certain what this dinosaur fed on during its life.
Initially, scientists thought its diet might have consisted mainly of soft, non-abrasive vegetation. However, further studies into this dinosaur’s skull structure and musculature now suggest that it was probably capable of eating tough fibrous plant material.
Paleontologist Lawrence Morris Lambe discovered the first fossils of the Euoplocephalus on August 18th, 1897. It was found in Cretaceous deposits within the Red Deer River area in Alberta, Canada. The discovery site is within the present Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta. The one and only species of this dinosaur genus is the Euoplocephalus tutus. This dinosaur’s initial name was Stereocephalus. Scientists had earlier assigned the name to an insect, so it had to be changed.
Although the Ankylosaurus, another member of the Ankylosaurus family, seems to be more popular, paleontologists have uncovered more fossils of the Euoplocephalus than that of any other member of its family. They have found more than 40 well-preserved fossils so far, including 15 with their skull intact. The remains include both adult and juvenile Euoplocephalus dinosaurs. Although scientists love to think that this dinosaur might have herd like many plant-eating dinosaurs at the time did, evidence suggests that the Euoplocephalus most likely led a solitary lifestyle.
Although fossils of this dinosaur come from sites in Canada, its habitat most likely extended to other parts of North America. Particularly, this dinosaur most likely lived on the Western side of North America. Its habitat was most likely close to an inland sea. The surrounding land would have gotten a lot of moisture which provided an abundant food supply for the Euoplocephalus.
Even though the Euoplocephalus was a harmless herbivore, it was well protected from predators. In fact, paleontologists believed that the species’ numerous adaptations would aid its survival for a long time if the worldwide extinction event that wiped out most of the dinosaurs did not occur.
In fact, scientists believe that the Euoplocephalus most likely lived longer than other members of its family. Many of the fossils they have discovered so far were dated between 76.5 and 67 million years ago. However, the Euoplocephalus, along with other non-avian dinosaurs, did not survive the KT extinction event (the extinction event that took place towards the end of the Cretacous Period) that wiped out more than 70% of life on earth.
While we know a lot about this dinosaur from fossil records, there’s still a lot about its habit that scientists are yet to fully discover. We do know that it was well-protected by spikes, a clubbed tail, and thick body armor. These were valuable adaptive features to have during a period as harsh as it lived.
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The photo featured at the top of this post is © Catmando/Shutterstock.com
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- Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euoplocephalus
- Natural History Museum, Available here: https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/dino-directory/euoplocephalus.html
- Britannica, Available here: https://www.britannica.com/animal/Euoplocephalus
- Thought Co., Available here: https://www.thoughtco.com/euoplocephalus-1092869