Dinosaur Built (and Named) Like a Tank

Paleontologists Bill and Kris Parsons of the Buffalo Museum of Science in New York found a dinosaur skull in Montana in 1997. In the years since, they've excavated the rest of the skeleton of a new dinosaur called Tatankacephalus cooneyorum.
"These were big dinosaur versions of a Sherman tank," Bill Parsons said. "They were armored and they withstood whatever came at them, and they just kept going." T. cooneyorum was about 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 meters) in length.

And this dinosaur had its share of protection, with two sets of stubby horns, one on the cheeks and the other around its eyes, two thick domes at the back of the skull and thickened areas around the nasal region.

Bill Parsons suspects T. cooneyorum was covered with hundreds or even thousands of bony plates equipped with spikes and a tail tipped with a club, similar to other ankylosaurs. Such protection, along with a swinging clubbed tail, would have kept at bay any of the small dinosaurs around at the time, Parsons said.

T. cooneyorum dates from around 112 million years ago. Link -via the Presurfer

(image credit: Bill Parsons)

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Tananka or Thetanka... ;-)

Seems like a bit of a hopeless animal-group as pets or zoo-animals, these ankylosaurs- Perhaps vegetarian and peacefull like modern cows, but very small brains in big armoured body with a hell of a Punch at the back. So anything that triggers their nerves or scares them, makes them go highly defensive instantly and whack their tails into whatever it is that even so much as moves.

:lol: That'd be a sight to see! :-)
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@ Johnny Cat - You're right! Its first name translates as "Buffalo-head." The "cooneyorum" is Latin for "of Cooney," which is of course a proper noun; but the article doesn't indicate if it's a person or a place.

@ pwscott - Interesting theory, but avoiding predation is just one of many skills required for a species to last, and every species we know of had/has its special kung-fu. Also, ankylosaurs had very tiny brains that were more cerebellum than anything else. Most dino species we know of seem to have left fossils over a 10-million-year period before vanishing (dinos as a group seem to have thrived for 150 million years); Tatankacephalus thus probably lasted about 10 million years, after which it was supplanted by competing species, succumbed to disease or lost its food source. By the time of the KT extinction, Tatankacephalus was long gone, and in its niche were later ankylosaurs.

It's generally believed that a small species of dromaeosaurid (Velociraptor was one) called Troodon had the largest brain-to-body size ratio of all dinos, and probably had cat-like intelligence. This has led some to speculate that it would have evolved into a human-like creature (One depiction reminded me of a Sleestak from "Land of the Lost") if dinos hadn't all died out. This speculation is a bit naive - there's no reason for it to change shape to fit our idea of an "intelligent life form," and it would have taken over 10 million years to do this. But as brains go, Troodon was probably at or near the top of the class in its time.
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Good point JC. My theory is that with that amount of armour this species should have developed into the lizards from V. If you have no natural enemies shouldn't evolution kick you up the food chain.
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