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Armored dinosaur with prickly head revealed in Utah Museum




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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A dinosaur was unveiled in a museum in Utah, covered with bone armor from its prickly head to its club tail.

The species of Ankylosaur was a squat herbivore that roamed four legs in southern Utah about 76 million years ago in the late Cretaceous. At that time, the desert state was hot and humid, covered in slow-flowing streams and rivers and large conifers, said paleontologist Randall Irmis.

It was about as long as a great alligator and standing at a height that was so tall would have been about waist high for a tall human. He probably used his distinctive tail and armor to protect himself, though they could have been used for the exhibition.

The fossil presented on Thursday at the Natural History Museum of Utah was first discovered in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. a rich dinosaur depot in southern Utah.

The fossil was discovered on the Kaiparowits Formation, a thick layer of sandstone that also has huge coal reserves within a sprawling national monument that was downsized by one of two Presidents Donald Trump last year. The location where the fossil was found remains within the limits of Grand Staircase-Escalante, although areas that are now out of bounds also have fossil potential, Irmis said.

The researchers expected smooth skull scalp like other North American Ankylosaurs, but were surprised to find evidence that instead they had spiny armor on their heads and muzzles, much like fossils found in Asia.

Paleontologists believe that the animals emigrated to North America several times during the eons, when sea level allowed crossing a land bridge.

The species was named Akainacephalus johnsoni to recognize Randy Johnson, a retired chemist and museum volunteer who struggles to rid the skull of rocks and debris for hundreds of hours.

Along with a complete skull the fossil also includes the striking tail stick, large parts of his spine, and parts of his body armor, including two neck rings and spiky armor plates, the museum said in a statement.


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