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042

Pinacosaurus grangeri

OLogy Series
specimen
card
042

Pinacosaurus grangeri

OLogy Series
specimen

About 80 million years ago, during the Late Cretaceous, this armored plant-eater roamed the Gobi Desert in Central Asia. Pinacosaurus is related to Ankylosaurus, an armored dinosaur that lived in North America about the same time. Both dinosaurs could whack enemies with their tail clubs.

Loners Or Social Animals?
In July 1988, paleontologist Phil Currie was searching for fossils in the red-orange sand of the Gobi Desert. Another scientist rushed over to show him some fossilized teeth he had found. Currie knew the teeth came from Pinacosaurus but wondered why the teeth were so small. These scientists returned to the site and discovered more teeth, and an oddly small skull and a spine. They brushed away the sand and excavated five small Pinacosaurus skeletons all together. For years, scientists had thought that this kind of dinosaur lived mostly by itself. This was the first evidence that, at least some times, Pinacosaurus were social animals who lived in groups.

Next to its nostrils, Pinacosaurus had a pair of small openings. What were these holes for?

to warm incoming air

to make a loud warning noise

no one knows

Are you right?

Correct!

Although scientists have made guesses about these mysterious nasal openings, their function is unknown.

Mark Norell, paleontologist

Three of these tank-like animals were preserved... as if enjoying a day on a dune. Then, 80 million years later, my colleagues found them.

This dinosaur's back feet had more toes than its front feet.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

The front feet of Pinacosaurus had 4 toes. Each of the back feet had 5 toes.

Pinacosaurus (pih-NAC-coh-SAWR-us)
Locality Found: Mongolia
Age: Cretaceous 85-81 MYA
Size: skull is 9 inches long
Prepared For: 2000 Museum exhibit Fighting Dinosaurs
Characteristics: This dinosaur was quadrupedal (walked on all fours) and had a club on its tail that was probably used to protect itself.

Image credits: courtesy of AMNH; Mike Novacek: courtesy of Discovery Channel Online.