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Minmi

MIN - me

Ankylosauria/Polacanthidae
Copyright 2007

Field Notes

Named after Minmi Crossing, where it was first found
Length: 8 feet (2.5 m)
Diet: Herbivore (Plant-Eater)
Time: Early Cretaceous
Location: Queensland, Australia

The most complete and best known dinosaur from Australia. Minmi was also the first armored dinosaur found in the Southern Hemisphere. While it is clearly one of the armored ankylosaurian dinosaurs, it is not clear whether Minmi is a nodosaurid, an ankylosaurid, or a representative of a new, third group. Like other ankylosaurs, Minmi had a back covered by rows of bony shields and nubbins.

Unlike most other ankylosaurs, however, this armor extended onto the flanks and belly and even onto the upper parts of all four legs. The tail had two rows of large, bladed spikes occurring in pairs for most of its length.

Similar to other ankylosaurs,Minmi was a broad but squat animal with four short legs. The hips were very wide and formed a bony raft across the rump. The head was generally flattened and quite broad at the back, narrowing to a thin snout. The front of the snout had a horny beak for snipping off leaves. the leaves were then sliced into small pieces by rows of small teeth along the sides of the mouth.

Minmi was first described from a set of three vertebrae found in southern Queensland in the 1960s. In 1990 an almost complete skeleton was found near Hughenden in central Queensland. The prized skeleton is in an extremely hard limestone that is slowly being dissolved in weak acid. It will take some years before the fossil's secrets are revealed.

Australia in the early Cretaceous was still connected to Antartica and was much further south than it is today, with only its northernmost parts outside what is now the Antarctic Circle. The fact that australian dinosaurs such as Minmi are so different from dinosaurs occurring elsewhere in the world at that time indicates that the emerging continent had only very limited access for land animals.

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