Aletopelta coombsi /əˌliːtoʊˈpɛltə ˈkoʊmzi/ is an herbivorous ankylosaurian ornithischian dinosaur that during the Late Cretaceous lived in the area of what is now Southern California.

Temporal range: Campanian
Aletopelta coombsi
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Dinosauria
Order: Ornithischia
Suborder: Ankylosauria
Family: Ankylosauridae
Genus: Aletopelta
Ford & Kirkland, 2001
A. coombsi
Binomial name
Aletopelta coombsi
Ford & Kirkland, 2001

Discovery and naming

In 1987, construction work was done on the College Boulevard near Carlsbad at the Californian coast. In the Letterbox Canyon between El Camino Real and Palomar Airport Road, northwest of McClellan–Palomar Airport, the road was widened. While paleontologically surveying the work, Bradford Riney noted that a skeleton had been uncovered by a ditch dug for a sewage pipe. Within days, it was secured by the San Diego Natural History Museum. In 1988, the find was reported by Thomas Deméré. The discovery drew much attention because it was the first important ankylosaurian fossil known from the area. It was dubbed the "Carlsbad Ankylosaur". In 1996, the fossil was described but not named by Deméré and Walter Preston Coombs.[1]

In 2001, the type species Aletopelta coombsi was named by Tracy Lee Ford and James Kirkland. Etymologically, the generic name is composed of the Greek terms ἀλήτης, aletes, and πέλτη, pelte, meaning respectively "wanderer" and "small shield". This genus name was suggested by Ben Creisler because the fossil location, at the time the dinosaur died, being located on the tectonic plate containing the Peninsular Ranges Terrane, was somewhere opposite the middle of Mexico. This plate had thus been wandering northward since, carrying the specimen with it. The specific epithet honors the vertebrate paleontologist Walter Preston Coombs, Jr., "for his ground-breaking work on ankylosaurs and his years of research, which have inspired many an enthusiast as well as professional paleontologist".[2]


Aletopelta NT
Life restoration in its environment

Aletopelta is known from a single partial skeleton lacking the skull, holotype SDNHM 33909, part of the collection of the San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego, California. The skeleton including femora (the thighbones), tibiae (shinbones), fibulae (calf bones) and incomplete parts of a scapula (shoulder blade), humerus, ulna, left and right ischium, vertebrae, ribs, partial armor over the pelvic girdle, a cervival halfring plus at least sixty detached armor plates and eight teeth was found in a layer of the Late Cretaceous (Upper Campanian) marine Point Loma Formation, dating from the late Campanian, in 2001 estimated at 75.5 million years old.[2] Apparently, the animal's bloated carcass floated out to sea, and formed a miniature reef environment after it sunk to the bottom, landing on its back, as testified by Pelecypoda attaching to the bones. The remains were possibly scavenged by sharks. Most long bones have lost their joint surfaces and were hollowed out. As a result the condition of the skeletal elements is poor.[1]


Aletopelta is a medium-sized ankylosaurid, originally estimated to be around 6 metres (20 ft) long. In 2010, Gregory S. Paul estimated its length at five metres, its weight at two tonnes.[3]

Due to the damaged state of the holotype bones, it is difficult to determine distinguishing traits. In 2004, Matthew Vickaryous e.a. therefore considered Aletopelta to be a nomen dubium.[4]


Aletopelta is diagnosed as an ankylosaurid mainly based on the shape and arrangement of its osteoderm armor, which is closer in form to ankylosaurids than to nodosaurids.

See also


  1. ^ a b W.P. Coombs, Jr. and T.A. Deméré, 1996, "A Late Cretaceous nodosaurid ankylosaur (Dinosauria: Ornithischia) from marine sediments of coastal California", Journal of Paleontology 70(2): 311-326
  2. ^ a b T.L. Ford and J.I. Kirkland, 2001, "Carlsbad ankylosaur (Ornithischia, Ankylosauria): an ankylosaurid and not a nodosaurid", In: The Armored Dinosaurs. Indiana University Press, Bloomington pp 239-260
  3. ^ Paul, G.S., 2010, The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs, Princeton University Press p. 233
  4. ^ Vickaryous, M.K.; Maryańska, T. & Weishampel, D.B. (2004). "Ankylosauria". In Weishampel, D. B.; Dodson, P. & Osmólska, H. (eds.). The Dinosauria (Second Edition). University of California Press. pp. 363–392. ISBN 0-520-24209-2.

Acantholipan is a genus of herbivorous nodosaurid dinosaur from Mexico from the early Santonian age of the Late Cretaceous. It includes one species, Acantholipan gonzalezi.


Ankylosauridae () is a family of armored dinosaurs within Ankylosauria, and is the sister group to Nodosauridae. Ankylosaurids appeared 122 million years ago and went extinct 66 million years ago during the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. These animals were mainly herbivorous and were obligate quadrupeds, with leaf-shaped teeth and robust, scute-covered bodies. Ankylosaurids possess a distinctly domed and short snout, wedge-shaped osteoderms on their skull, scutes along their torso, and a tail club.Ankylosauridae is exclusively known from the northern hemisphere, with specimens found in western North America, Europe, and East Asia. The first discoveries within this family were of the genus Ankylosaurus, by Peter Kaiser and Barnum Brown in Montana in 1906. Brown went on to name Ankylosauridae and the subfamily Ankylosaurinae in 1908.


Ankylosaurinae is a subfamily of ankylosaurid dinosaurs, existing from the Early Cretaceous about 105 million years ago until the end of the Late Cretaceous, about 66 mya. Many genera are included in the clade, such as Ankylosaurus, Pinacosaurus, Euoplocephalus, and Saichania.


Bienosaurus (meaning "Bien's lizard") is a genus of thyreophoran dinosaur from the Lower Jurassic (probably Sinemurian) Lower Lufeng Formation in Yunnan Province in China.


Bissektipelta is a genus of herbivorous ankylosaurid dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous of Uzbekistan. Bissektipelta is monospecific, containing only the species B. archibaldi.


Chuanqilong is an extinct genus of ankylosaurid dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of China. It is known from the type species, Chuanqilong chaoyangensis. It lived during the Aptian stage of early Cretaceous period (125 - 112 mya) and was about 4.5 meters long. Its weight is estimated at some 450 kg.


Craterosaurus (meaning krater reptile or bowl reptile) was a genus of stegosaurid dinosaur. It lived during the Early Cretaceous (Valanginian to Barremian stages) around 145-136 million years ago. Its fossils were found in the Woburn Sands Formation of England. Craterosaurus may actually be a junior synonym of Regnosaurus, but only one fossil, a partial vertebra, was recovered.

The type (and only known) species is Craterosaurus pottonensis, described in 1874 by Harry Seeley. The specific name refers to the Potton bonebed. Seeley mistook the fossil, holotype SMC B.28814, for the base of a cranium. Franz Nopcsa in 1912 correctly identified it as the front part of a neural arch. Craterosaurus was placed in Stegosauria by Galton, although subsequent authors did not recognize Craterosaurus as a distinct, valid taxon.


Dongyangopelta is an extinct genus of nodosaurid ankylosaurian dinosaur known from the "middle" Cretaceous Chaochuan Formation (Albian or Cenomanian stage) of Dongyang, Zhejiang Province, China. Dongyangopelta was first named by Rongjun Chen, Wenjie Zheng, Yoichi Azuma, Masateru Shibata, Tianliang Lou, Qiang Jin and Xingsheng Jin in 2013 and the type species is Dongyangopelta yangyanensis. It differs from Zhejiangosaurus, the second nodosaurid from southeast China, in the characters of presacral rod, ilium, and femur. Donyangopelta is distinguishable from Zhejiangosaurus only on the basis of the morphology of its pelvic shield.


Invictarx is a genus of herbivorous nodosaurid dinosaur from New Mexico dating from the early Campanian epoch of the Late Cretaceous.


Mongolostegus is a genus of stegosaur from the Early Cretaceous (Aptian-Albian) of Mongolia. The type and only species is M. exspectabilis, known from a single specimen previously under the nomen nudum Wuerhosaurus mongoliensis.


Mymoorapelta ("Shield of Mygatt-Moore") is an ankylosaur from the Late Jurassic (Kimmeridgian-Tithonian) Morrison Formation (Brushy Basin Member) of western Colorado, USA. The taxon is known from portions of a disarticulated skull, parts of three different skeletons and other postcranial remains. It is present in stratigraphic zones 4 and 5 of the Morrison Formation.


Nodosaurinae is a group of ankylosaurian dinosaurs named in 1919 by Othenio Abel.


Nodosaurus (meaning "knobbed lizard") is a genus of herbivorous ankylosaurian dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous, the fossils of which are found in North America.


Scelidosauridae is a group of basal thyreophoran dinosaurs that lived during the Early Jurassic in what are now England, China, and North America with possible additional remains known from Portugal. The group was named in 1869 by Thomas Henry Huxley. Today it is generally considered paraphyletic, although Benton (2004) regards it as monophyletic.


Silvisaurus, from the Latin silva "woodland" and Greek sauros "lizard", is a nodosaurid ankylosaur from the middle Cretaceous period.


Tatisaurus is a genus of ornithischian dinosaur from the Early Jurassic from the Lower Lufeng Formation in Yunnan Province in China. Little is known as the remains are fragmentary.


Texasetes (meaning "Texas resident") is a genus of ankylosaurian dinosaurs from the late Lower Cretaceous of North America. This poorly known genus has been recovered from the Paw Paw Formation (late Albian) near Haslet, Tarrant County, Texas, which has also produced the nodosaurid ankylosaur Pawpawsaurus. Texasetes is estimated to have been 2.5–3 m (8–10 ft) in length. It was named by Coombs in 1995.


Tianzhenosaurus (Tianzhen + Greek sauros="lizard") is a genus of ankylosaurid dinosaurs discovered in Tianzhen County, at Kangdailiang near Zhaojiagou Village, in Shanxi Province, China, in the Late Cretaceous Huiquanpu Formation. Thus far, a virtually complete skull and postcranial skeleton have been assigned to the genus, which is monotypic (T. youngi Pang & Cheng, 1998).

This was a medium-sized ankylosaurian, the skull measuring 28 cm (11 in) in length, with a total body length around 4 m (13 ft).

Vickaryous et al. (2004) placed Tianzhenosaurus within the Ankylosauridae, nested as the sister group to Pinacosaurus. Some authors have suggested that Tianzhenosaurus is actually a junior synonym of Saichania chulsanensis.


Tsagantegia (; meaning "of Tsagan-Teg"; Tumanova, 1993) is a genus of medium-sized ankylosaurid dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Mongolia, during the Cenomanian stage.

The holotype specimen (GI SPS N 700/17), a complete skull, was recovered from the Bayan Shireh Formation (Cenomanian-Santonian), at the Tsagan-Teg ("White Mountain") locality, Dzun-Bayan, in the southeastern Gobi Desert, Mongolia. The genus is monotypic, including only the type species, T. longicranialis.


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