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|Skeletal mount of Gastonia burgei , BYU Museum of Paleontology|
|Skeletal mount of Stegosaurus stenops , Natural History Museum, London|
|Clade:||† Thyreophora |
Thyreophora ("shield bearers", often known simply as "armored dinosaurs") is a group of armored ornithischian dinosaurs that lived from the early Jurassic Period until the end of the Cretaceous.
Thyreophorans are characterized by the presence of body armor lined up in longitudinal rows along the body. Primitive forms had simple, low, keeled scutes or osteoderms, whereas more derived forms developed more elaborate structures including spikes and plates. Most thyreophorans were herbivorous and had relatively small brains for their body size.
Thyreophora includes various subgroups, including the suborders Ankylosauria and Stegosauria. In both the suborders, the forelimbs were much shorter than the hindlimbs, particularly in stegosaurs. The clade has been defined as the group consisting of all species more closely related to Ankylosaurus than to Triceratops . Thyreophora is the sister group of Cerapoda within Genasauria.
Among the Ankylosauria, the two main groups are the ankylosaurids and nodosaurids.
Ankylosaurids are noted by the presence of a large tail club composed of distended vertebrae that have fused into a single mass. They were heavy-set and heavily armored from head to tail in bony armor, even down to minor features such as the eyelids. Spikes and nodules, often of horn, were set into the armor. The head was flat, stocky, with little or no "neck", roughly shovel-shaped and characterized by two spikes on either side of the head approximately where the ears and cheeks were. Euoplocephalus tutus is perhaps the best-known ankylosaurid.
Nodosaurids, the other family in the Ankylosauria, may actually include the ancestors of the ankylosaurids. They lived during the middle Jurassic (approx 170 mya) on up through the late Cretaceous (66 mya) and, while armored as the ankylosaurids, did not have a tail club. Instead, the bony bumps and spikes that covered the rest of their body continued out to the tail and/or were augmented with sharp spines. Two examples of nodosaurs are Sauropelta and Edmontonia , the latter most notable for its formidable forward-pointing shoulder spikes.
The suborder Stegosauria comprises Stegosauridae and Huayangosauridae. These dinosaurs lived mostly from the Middle to Late Jurassic, although some fossils have been found in the Cretaceous. Stegosaurs had very small heads with simple, leaf-like teeth. Stegosaurs possessed rows of plates and/or spikes running down the dorsal midline and elongated dorsal vertebra. It has been suggested that stegosaur plates functioned in control of body temperature (thermoregulation) and/or were used as a display to identify members of a species, as well as to attract mates and intimidate rivals. Well known stegosaurs are Stegosaurus and Kentrosaurus .
While ranked taxonomy has largely fallen out of favor among dinosaur paleontologists, a few 21st century publications have retained the use of ranks, though sources have differed on what its rank should be. Most have listed Thyreophora as an unranked taxon containing the traditional suborders Stegosauria and Ankylosauria, though Thyreophora is also sometimes classified as a suborder, with Ankylosauria and Stegosauria as infraorders.
Thyreophora was first named by Nopcsa in 1915.Thyreophora was defined as a clade by Paul Sereno in 1998, as "all genasaurs more closely related to Ankylosaurus than to Triceratops ". Thyreophoroidea was first named by Nopcsa in 1928 and defined by Sereno in 1986, as " Scelidosaurus , Ankylosaurus , their most recent common ancestor and all of its descendants". Eurypoda was first named by Sereno in 1986 and defined by him in 1998, as " Stegosaurus , Ankylosaurus, their most recent common ancestor and all of their descendants". The cladogram below follows a 2011 analysis by paleontologists Richard S. Thompson, Jolyon C. Parish, Susannah C. R. Maidment and Paul M. Barrett.
In 2020, as part of his monograph on Scelidosaurus , David Norman revised the relationships of early thyreophorans, finding that Stegosauria was the most basal branch, with Scutellosaurus , Emausaurus and Scelidosaurus being progressive stem groups to Ankylosauria, rather than to Stegosauria+Ankylosauria. A cladogram is given below:
Stegosaurus, from Greek stegos (στέγος), which means roof, and sauros (σαῦρος), which means lizard, is a genus of herbivorous thyreophoran dinosaur. Fossils of this genus date to the Late Jurassic period, where they are found in Kimmeridgian to early Tithonian aged strata, between 155 and 150 million years ago, in the western United States and Portugal. Of the species that have been classified in the upper Morrison Formation of the western US, only three are universally recognized; S. stenops, S. ungulatus and S. sulcatus. The remains of over 80 individual animals of this genus have been found. Stegosaurus would have lived alongside dinosaurs such as Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, Brachiosaurus, Allosaurus, and Ceratosaurus; the latter two may have preyed on it.
Ornithischia is an extinct clade of mainly herbivorous dinosaurs characterized by a pelvic structure superficially similar to that of birds. The name Ornithischia, or "bird-hipped", reflects this similarity and is derived from the Greek stem ornith- (ὀρνιθ-), meaning "of a bird", and ischion (ἴσχιον), plural ischia, meaning "hip joint". However, birds are only distantly related to this group as birds are theropod dinosaurs.
Ankylosauria is a group of herbivorous dinosaurs of the order Ornithischia. It includes the great majority of dinosaurs with armor in the form of bony osteoderms, similar to turtles. Ankylosaurs were bulky quadrupeds, with short, powerful limbs. They are known to have first appeared in the early Jurassic Period, and persisted until the end of the Cretaceous Period. The two main families of Ankylosaurs, Nodosauridae and Ankylosauridae are primarily known from the Northern Hemisphere, but more primitive ankylosaurs are known from the Australia-Antarctica region during the Cretaceous.
Ankylosaurus is a genus of armored dinosaur. Its fossils have been found in geological formations dating to the very end of the Cretaceous Period, about 68–66 million years ago, in western North America, making it among the last of the non-avian dinosaurs. It was named by Barnum Brown in 1908; the only species in the genus is A. magniventris. The genus name means "fused lizard", and the specific name means "great belly". A handful of specimens have been excavated to date, but a complete skeleton has not been discovered. Though other members of Ankylosauria are represented by more extensive fossil material, Ankylosaurus is often considered the archetypal member of its group, despite having some unusual features.
Euoplocephalus is a genus of very large, herbivorous ankylosaurian dinosaurs, living during the Late Cretaceous of Canada. It has only one named species, Euoplocephalus tutus.
Scelidosaurus is a genus of herbivorous armoured ornithischian dinosaur from the Jurassic of the British Isles.
Ankylosauridae is a family of armored dinosaurs within Ankylosauria, and is the sister group to Nodosauridae. The oldest known Ankylosaurids date to around 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.
Struthiosaurus is one of the smallest known and most basal genera of nodosaurid dinosaurs, from the Late Cretaceous period (Santonian-Maastrichtian) of Austria, Romania, France and Hungary in Europe. It was protected by body armour. Although estimates of its length vary, it may have been as small as 2.2 metres (7.2 ft) long.
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.
Dyoplosaurus is an extinct genus of ankylosaurid dinosaurs within the subfamily Ankylosaurinae. It is known from the lower levels of the Late Cretaceous Dinosaur Park Formation of Alberta, Canada. It contains a single species, Dyoplosaurus acutosquameus.
Paranthodon is a genus of stegosaurian dinosaur that lived in what is now South Africa during the Early Cretaceous, between 139 and 131 million years ago. Discovered in 1845, it was one of the first stegosaurians found. Its only remains, a partial skull, isolated teeth, and fragments of vertebrae, were found in the Kirkwood Formation. British paleontologist Richard Owen initially identified the fragments as those of the pareiasaur Anthodon. After remaining untouched for years in the British Museum of Natural History, the partial skull was identified by South African paleontologist Robert Broom as belonging to a different genus; he named the specimen Palaeoscincus africanus. Several years later, Hungarian paleontologist Franz Nopcsa, unaware of Broom's new name, similarly concluded that it represented a new taxon, and named it Paranthodon owenii. Since Nopcsa's species name was assigned after Broom's, and Broom did not assign a new genus, both names are now synonyms of the current binomial, Paranthodon africanus. The genus name combines the Ancient Greek para (near) with the genus name Anthodon, to represent the initial referral of the remains.
Mymoorapelta is an ankylosaur from the Late Jurassic (Kimmeridgian-Tithonian) Morrison Formation 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.
Stegosauria is a group of herbivorous ornithischian dinosaurs that lived during the Jurassic and early Cretaceous periods. Stegosaurian fossils have been found mostly in the Northern Hemisphere, predominantly in what is now North America, Europe, Africa, South America and Asia. Their geographical origins are unclear; the earliest unequivocal stegosaurian, Huayangosaurus taibaii, lived in China.
Stegosauridae is a clade of thyreophoran dinosaurs within the suborder Stegosauria. The clade is defined as all species of dinosaurs more closely related to Stegosaurus than Huayangosaurus. The name ‘Stegosauridae’ is thus a stem-based name taken from the well-represented genus – Stegosaurus. Fossil evidence of stegosaurids, dating from the Middle Jurassic through the Early Cretaceous, have been recovered from North America, Eurasia and Africa.
Emausaurus is a genus of thyreophoran or armored dinosaur from the Early Jurassic (Toarcian). Its fossils have been found in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, northern Germany. Emausaurus is the only known Toarcian thyreorphoran and it is also the only dinosaur from the Ciechocinek Formation with a formal name.
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.
Loricatosaurus is a dinosaur of family Stegosauridae from Callovian-age rocks of England and France.
Genasauria is a clade of extinct beaked, primarily herbivorous dinosaurs. Paleontologist Paul Sereno first named Genasauria in 1986. The name Genasauria is derived from the Latin word gena meaning ‘cheek’ and the Greek word saúra (σαύρα) meaning ‘lizard.’ Genasauria is the most inclusive clade within the order Ornithischia. According to Sereno (1986), Genasauria represents all ornithischians except for the most primitive ornithischian, Lesothosaurus. Sereno's formal definition is, “Ankylosaurus, Triceratops, their most recent common ancestor and all descendants.” It is hypothesized that Genasauria had diverged from Lesothosaurus by the Early Jurassic. Cranial features that characterize Genasauria include a medial offset of the maxillary dentition, a sprout-shaped mandibular symphysis, moderately sized coronoid process, and an edentulous anterior portion of the premaxilla. A distinguishing postcranial feature of Genasauria is a pubic peduncle of the ilium that is less robust than the ischial peduncle. Genasauria is commonly divided into Neornithischia and Thyreophora. Neornithischia is characterized by asymmetrical distributions of enamel covering the crowns of the cheek teeth, an open acetabulum, and a laterally protruding ischial peduncle of the ilium. Neornithischia includes ornithopods, pachycephalosaurs, and ceratopsians. Thyreophora is characterized by body armor and includes stegosaurs, ankylosaurs, Scelidosaurus, and Scutellosaurus.
This timeline of stegosaur research is a chronological listing of events in the history of paleontology focused on the stegosaurs, the iconic plate-backed, spike-tailed herbivorous eurypod dinosaurs that predominated during the Jurassic period. The first scientifically documented stegosaur remains were recovered from Early Cretaceous strata in England during the mid-19th century. However, they would not be recognized as a distinct group of dinosaurs until Othniel Charles Marsh described the new genus and species Stegosaurus armatus in 1877, which he regarded as the founding member of the Stegosauria. This new taxon originally included all armored dinosaurs. It was not until 1927 that Alfred Sherwood Romer implemented the modern use of the name Stegosauria as specifically pertaining to the plate-backed and spike-tailed dinosaurs.
This timeline of ankylosaur research is a chronological listing of events in the history of paleontology focused on the ankylosaurs, quadrupedal herbivorous dinosaurs who were protected by a covering bony plates and spikes and sometimes by a clubbed tail. Although formally trained scientists did not begin documenting ankylosaur fossils until the early 19th century, Native Americans had a long history of contact with these remains, which were generally interpreted through a mythological lens. The Delaware people have stories about smoking the bones of ancient monsters in a magic ritual to have wishes granted and ankylosaur fossils are among the local fossils that may have been used like this. The Native Americans of the modern southwestern United States tell stories about an armored monster named Yeitso that may have been influenced by local ankylosaur fossils. Likewise, ankylosaur remains are among the dinosaur bones found along the Red Deer River of Alberta, Canada where the Piegan people believe that the Grandfather of the Buffalo once lived.