Animantarx (/ænɪˈmæntɑːrks/ ann-i-MAN-tarks; meaning 'living citadel') is a genus of nodosaurid ankylosaurian dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous of western North America. Like other nodosaurs, it would have been a slow-moving quadrupedal herbivore covered in heavy armor scutes, but without a tail club. The skull measures approximately 25 cm (10 inches) in length, suggesting the animal as a whole was no more than 3 meters (10 feet) long.

Temporal range: 104.46–98.37 Ma
Reconstructed skeleton
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Dinosauria
Order: Ornithischia
Suborder: Ankylosauria
Family: Nodosauridae
Genus: Animantarx
Carpenter et al., 1999
Type species
Animantarx ramaljonesi
Carpenter et al., 1999

Discovery and species

Animantarx price 2
Detail of skull and neck. Reconstructed skeleton at the USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum, Price, Utah
Animantarx back
Other angle of skeleton
Animantarx SIZE
Size of Animantarx, compared to a human.

The generic name is composed of the Latin words animatus ("living" or "animated") and arx ("fortress" or "citadel"), referring to its armored nature. In particular, the name is a reference to a comment made by paleontologist R. S. Lull about ankylosaurs, that as "an animated citadel, these animals must have been practically unassailable..."[1] The type species is the only one known so far, and is called A. ramaljonesi after its discoverer, Ramal Jones. His wife, Carol Jones, also discovered the contemporaneous dinosaur Eolambia nearby.

Only one specimen of Animantarx has so far been recovered. The remains include the lower jaw and back half of the skull, along with neck and back vertebrae, and various limb elements. Animantarx is characterized by a unique combination of features, including a highly domed skull back, small horns on the postorbital and quadratojugal bones of the skull, and a mandible which is only armoured on half of its length.

These fossil remains were discovered in the Mussentuchit Member of the Cedar Mountain Formation in the eastern portion of the U.S. state of Utah. This section of the formation is believed to represent the late Albian through early Cenomanian stages of the Late Cretaceous Period, or about 106 to 97 million years ago. At least 80 other vertebrate species are known from the Mussentuchit, including fish, frogs, lizards, snakes, crocodilians, dinosaurs, birds, and mammals, although not all are complete enough to name. Many dinosaur groups are represented by fossils from this member, including carnivorous theropods as well as several different herbivorous types, including the iguanodont Eolambia. The presence of aquatic animals like fish and frogs, as well as the mudstone in which their fossils are found, suggests that this was a floodplain environment.[2]

Earlier layers within the Cedar Mountain Formation contain different nodosaur species. The oldest layer, known as the Yellow Cat Member, contains Gastonia, while the intermediate Poison Strip and Ruby Ranch Members contain remains which may belong to Sauropelta. The Mussentuchit, which is the youngest member of the Cedar Mountain, contains only Animantarx. While there is still a lot of exploration left to be done, this division of nodosaur species corresponds with that of other dinosaur groups and provides support for the hypothesis of three separate faunas in the Cedar Mountain Formation. The Mussentuchit fauna includes many taxa which may be of Asian origin and suggests a dispersal event may have occurred from Asia into North America around this time.[2][3]

Fossils in this region are often slightly radioactive, and remains of Animantarx were actually discovered following a radiological survey of the area performed by Ramal Jones, which located a higher level of radioactivity at a certain location. Subsequent excavation at this site turned up the fossil skeleton of Animantarx; no bones had been exposed on the surface.[4]


Animantarx is universally thought of as a nodosaurid ankylosaur, although its precise relationships within that family are uncertain. The most recent cladistic analysis of ankylosaur phylogeny does not include Animantarx, although the authors recognize the genus as Nodosauridae incertae sedis because of its rounded supraorbital protrusions and a "knoblike" acromion on the scapula.[5] Two separate studies have found Animantarx to be the sister taxon of Edmontonia within Nodosauridae.[6][7]

See also


  1. ^ Lull, R.S. 1914. Rulers of the Mesozoic. Yale Review 3: 352-363.
  2. ^ a b Kirkland, J.I., Britt, B., Burge, D.L., Carpenter, K., Cifelli, R., DeCourten, F., Eaton, J., Hasiotis, S., and Lawton, T. 1997. Lower to Middle Cretaceous dinosaur faunas of the Central Colorado Plateau: a key to understanding 35 million years of tectonics, sedimentology, evolution, and biogeography. Brigham Young University Geology Studies 42:69-103.
  3. ^ Carpenter, K., Kirkland, J.I., Burge, D.L., & Bird, J. 1999. Ankylosaurs (Dinosauria: Ornithischia) of the Cedar Mountain Formation, Utah, and their stratigraphic distribution. In: Gillette, D. (Ed.) Vertebrate Paleontology in Utah. Utah Geological Survey Miscellaneous Publication 99-1. Pp. 243-251.
  4. ^ Jones, R.D. & Burge, D.L. 1995. Radiological surveying as a method for mapping dinosaur bone sites. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 15: 38A.
  5. ^ Vickaryous, M.K., Maryanska, T., & Weishampel, D.B. 2004. Ankylosauria. In: Weishampel, D.B., Dodson, P., & Osmólska, H. (Eds.). The Dinosauria (2nd edition). Berkeley: University of California Press. Pp. 363-392.
  6. ^ Carpenter, K. 2001. Phylogenetic analysis of the Ankylosauria. In: Carpenter, K. (Ed.). The Armored Dinosaurs. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Pp. 454–483.
  7. ^ Hill, R.V., Witmer, L.M., Norell, M.A. 2003. A New specimen of Pinacosaurus grangeri (Dinosauria: Ornithischia) from the Late Cretaceous of Mongolia: ontogeny and phylogeny of ankylosaurs. American Museum Novitates 3395: 1-29.

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.


The Albian is both an age of the geologic timescale and a stage in the stratigraphic column. It is the youngest or uppermost subdivision of the Early/Lower Cretaceous epoch/series. Its approximate time range is 113.0 ± 1.0 Ma to 100.5 ± 0.9 Ma (million years ago). The Albian is preceded by the Aptian and followed by the Cenomanian.


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.


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.

James I. Kirkland

James Ian Kirkland (born August 24, 1954) is an American paleontologist and geologist. He has worked with dinosaur remains from the south west United States of America and Mexico and has been responsible for discovering new and important genera. He named (or worked with others in naming) Animantarx, Cedarpelta, Eohadrosaurus (nomen nudum, now named Eolambia), Jeyawati, Gastonia, Mymoorapelta, Nedcolbertia, Utahraptor, Zuniceratops, Europelta and Diabloceratops. At the same site where he found Gastonia and Utahraptor, Kirkland has also excavated fossils of the therizinosaurs Nothronychus and Falcarius.


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.


Nodosauridae is a family of ankylosaurian dinosaurs, from the Late Jurassic to the Late Cretaceous period of what are now North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Antarctica.


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.


Polacanthinae is a grouping of ankylosaurs, possibly primitive nodosaurids. Polacanthines are late Jurassic to early Cretaceous in age, and appear to have become extinct about the same time a land bridge opened between Asia and North America.Polacanthines were somewhat more lightly armoured than more advanced ankylosaurids and nodosaurids. Their spikes were made up of thin, compact bone with less reinforcing collagen than in the heavily armoured nodosaurids. The relative fragility of polacanthine armour suggests that it may have been as much for display as defense.


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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