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yoo - oh - ploh - SEF - uh - lus

Copyright 2007

Field Notes

Name Means: "Well-armored head"
Length: 23 feet (7 m)
Diet: Herbivore (Plant-Eater)
Time: Late Cretaceous
Location: Alberta, Canada; Montana, USA

Built like an armored tank, Euoplocephalus ambled through the late Cretaceous landscape, well equipped to withstand attack from any other dinosaur. Low slung and broad, the back of Euoplocephalus bore rows of bony shields with some taller spikes over the shoulders and at the base of the tail. There were also spikes on the dinosaur's cheeks and behind each eye, protecting the head.

The most lethal weapon in Euoplocephalus's armory was the double-headed club at the end of the long, stiffened tail. The base of the tail was quite flexible, but the last third was welded into a stiff rod by long struts growing out of each vertebra. The tail club could be swung most effectively from side to side, swiping at the feet of an attacking predator. If it connected with full force, it could shatter the ankle bones of the attacker, a wound that could later prove fatal.

Euoplocephalus had a compact, rounded head. Like other ankylosaurids, but unlike nodosaurids, it had a complex and convoluted nasal passage in the skull, but the function that this served is not clear. Perhaps the extra length given by the twists and loops allowed air to be warmed while the animal was breathing in, or perhaps this passage collected moisture from air being exhaled. The passage may also have been lined with sensors that gave Euoplocephalus an enhanced sense of smell for detecting food, predators, or potential mates.

The mouth had a broad beak at the front and a wide palate lined with small teeth. This arrangement suggests that Euoplocephalus was not particularly selective about what it ate and would consume almost any plant material that it could reach.

Around 40 specimens of Euoplocephalus have been found. All were isolated finds, which suggests thst these animals were loners rather than pack or herd animals. Packs and herds provided plant-eaters with a defense against predators but, perhaps because it was so heavily armored, Euoplocephalus had no need to rely on group behavior for protection.

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