How to Draw Dinosaurs
Prehistoric Times|Winter 2021 #136
Putting it all together, the body of Ankylosaurus
Tracy Lee Ford

Even though Ankylosaurus magniventris has been known for over 100 years, its iconic body shape isn’t what was first and subsequently depicted (because there is only one species of Ankylosaurus, I won’t be adding the species name for the rest of the article). There are no complete Ankylosaurus specimens; just bits and pieces of the body are known. So, this article I’ll be taking information from other genera to help explain what Ankylosaurus looked like. This is what paleontologists do until a more complete specimen is found. I’ll hold off on what the armor looked like for the last part of the article.

The body of Ankylosaurus is usually depicted as having a short neck, body, and tail. This is incorrect. For the most part, a complete ankylosaur vertebral column is either unknown or, more properly, not yet described, and so an accurate count of the entire vertebral column is difficult to determine. There are a few nearly complete specimens known from Asia and North America that still need to be described. For the most part they had a neck with 7 or 8 vertebrae (not including atlas/axis) about 9 to 13 “free” dorsal vertebrae, with the last 3 to 6 that form the presacral rod (the vertebrae that attach to the sacrum and forming the synsacrum), which has ribs “attaching” to the anteriorly long iliac blade. The pelvis had 3 to 6 fused sacral vertebrae and possibly up to 40 caudal vertebrae. The body was wide and barrel shaped in cross section (Figure 1). The front of the pelvis was wider than the back part. The first section of the tail had what is termed “free vertebrae,” with the last section having elongate prezygapophyses and postzygapophyses, which stiffened the tail, allowing for the very tip of the tail to have a tail club.

As per typical of dinosaurs and archosaurs in general, the manus, or hand, had five fingers, and only the first three fingers had claws, and the last two did not. The metatarsals were held vertically with a half-moon shape, similar to that seen in sauropods. The unguals, or claws, were wide and flat, which was good for digging (Figure 2). The pes, or foot, had three to four toes, depending on the genus.

And now, the armor: Without having a mummified specimen, the exact placement of ankylosaur armor is pure speculation. I’ve been studying ankylosaur armor for decades. In 2000, I had an article published where I put forth a list of names for different armored regions on the body of ankylosaurs (which I also published in an earlier PT article, no. 45, 2000-2001) (Figure 3). The regions are skull, cervical (neck), pectoral (shoulder region), thoracic (dorsal), pelvic (pelvis), and caudal (tail). I also suggested different rows of armor (which I alluded to in the last article), the majority of which are paired. The dorsalmost is the medial and then the primary, secondary, and finally the tertiary.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM PREHISTORIC TIMESView All

What's New in review

Papo of France creates highly detailed prehistoric animal figures (if not always the most scientifically accurate.)

6 mins read
Prehistoric Times
Winter 2021 #136

The Thunderbird

Today we have an excellent, new kit based upon a scene from Ray Harryhausen's cowboys vs. dinosaur film, The Valley of Gwangi.

2 mins read
Prehistoric Times
Winter 2021 #136

WHAT I DID ON MY LOCKDOWN

A tyrannosaur in the local area? How cool!

4 mins read
Prehistoric Times
Winter 2021 #136

The Forgotten Dinosaur Art of Robert T. Bakker

A renaissance marks a shift in the attitudes and behaviours of an entire society.

8 mins read
Prehistoric Times
Winter 2021 #136

Sauropelta

A flock of Deinonychus dart from the dense forest they had been moving through across the broad floodplain to the tree line on the far side.

10 mins read
Prehistoric Times
Winter 2021 #136

Reminiscing Over Dinosaurus!

“Alive! After 70 million years! Roaring! Walking! Destroying!” (Ad line for Dinosaurus!)

7 mins read
Prehistoric Times
Winter 2021 #136

Longisquama

“Determined to travel from the North Pole to the South Pole, Amos Barrett and his team of adventurers have arrived in the Late Triassic to drive the length of Pangea, the only time in the planet’s history when the continents had fused into one giant landmass.

10+ mins read
Prehistoric Times
Winter 2021 #136

How to Draw Dinosaurs

Putting it all together, the body of Ankylosaurus

8 mins read
Prehistoric Times
Winter 2021 #136

Dinosauriana Imagined 13

Dinosauriana Iberiana (A Spain-ful Endeavor)

5 mins read
Prehistoric Times
Winter 2021 #136

Dinosaur Collector News

Mollusca is the second-largest phylum of invertebrate animals after the Arthropods and the largest marine phylum. Molluscs include gastropods, cephalopods, and bivalves. The cephalopods, the most advanced class of mollusks, include ammonoids, belemnites as well as the octopus and squid. Nautiloids are the early forms. They get short shrift in the toy companies.

5 mins read
Prehistoric Times
Fall 2020 # 135