Dec 6, 2011

Ankylosaurus, like no living animal

I'm hitting a very interesting set of issues in recreating my Ankylosaur. That namely being there is nothing even remotely like an Ankylosaur alive today.

At least if the way the three palaeontologists I've talked to about them were accurate (in their defense none were specialists in armoured Dinosaurs). What I gathered was that all the scales of their skin had been hardened to some extent. The more advanced the Ankie the more hard the skin. However this essentially meant the whole (adult) animal was covered in varying sized bones on its hide. A true exoskeleton.

The problem is no reptile today has this type of protection. At least not to the degree and complexity of an Ankyosaur. So how do you reconstruct them?

There seem to a lot of memes and trends in how Ankylosaurs are recreated. I'm collecting various "official", professional, and museum sanctioned Minmi recreations to supplement Peter Bond's original Minmi post on his blog. All the recreations I'm collecting should have had scientist input at some stage, which leads me to hope there was science behind the armour placements. There are a few methods and choices I follow, but others are making me wonder if there are some really rampant Ankie armour memes out there. Standby for a more detailed post on ART Evolved, and possibly reposted here.

At moment I'm just trying to finish the baseline of my Minmi so that I can play next week.

This is the animal completely covered with baseline textures. Thought and comments?

This is the body and legs covered in actual armour objects via a surface replicator (my favourite tool of all time!). I think I need to bring the scutes up on the limbs to about knee level, but otherwise I'm really digging this look so far. That and I'm really starting to like my unique warning colouration scheme. Of all Dinosaurs to be flamboyantly coloured I'm thinking the hard and prickly Ankies were the ones to sport this look!



Albertonykus said...

Never heard of the exoskeleton-type scales! That is very strange.

Weapon of Mass Imagination said...

I don't mean like a insect exoskeleton.

I mean they are truly like a skeleton on the outside of the body. Made of essentially bone... It just starts off as a scale that calcifies.

To me this is a true exoskeleton, not an arthopods shell that we call exoskeleton. That is more like exoplating compared to an Ankylosaur who has an exo "skeleton" (made of almost bone).

Albertonykus said...

Yeah, I knew what you meant. Just being laconic. Strange nevertheless!

Victoria said...

The plates and spikes that form an ankylosaur's armour are called osteoderms. They are bones, through and through. They are not really scales that calcify - osteoderms are found in the dermis, whereas keratinous scales are epidermal features. Osteoderms are actually found in lots of animals - crocodiles, turtles, some lizards, armadillos, lots of extinct critters. Ankylosaurs are certainly weird, but osteoderms themselves are a relatively common occurrence in tetrapods.

traumador said...

Victoria- Thanks for the clarification.

I definately misunderstood the origin of the osteoderm in that case.

It was perhaps in the description I recieved that led to this misunderstanding. While an educator at the Tyrrell we were coming up with a FAQ for less palaeo oriented guides. So the answer to which Dinosaur has the most bones was clearly an Ankylosaur, but we wanted to know to what extent.

Enter the Euoplocephalus in the gallery. We had a few people take us through their interpretations of how the armour would go on the skeleton.

The message I took out of it was WHOLE animal had osteoderms for the most part instead of scales. So I just assumed they'd ancestrally started out as scales.

Isn't that how Croc scutes start out?

Anyways the fact Ankies are so radically different from extant crocodiles, turtles, lizards, and armadillos makes recreating them an interesting challenge for me to approach.

I have post coming up on Anky reconstructions I'd love your input on Victoria. For someone without access to the technical literature Ankie armour is a tough subject to research!

Victoria said...

"The message I took out of it was WHOLE animal had osteoderms for the most part instead of scales. So I just assumed they'd ancestrally started out as scales."

Ankylosaurs have osteoderms over pretty much their entire body, except for maybe the lower parts of the limbs and the belly. The osteoderms sit in the skin and would have been covered by a horny, keratinous layer, like in crocodiles. If you're looking for some good images of how osteoderms look in living animals, check our ARKive and look at crocodilians.

"Isn't that how Croc scutes start out?"

No and perhaps this is because the terminology surrounding osteoderms is sometimes a bit vague. The best word to use is osteoderm, as this unambiguously refers to the bone. Scute and scale typically refer to the keratinous part of the skin, although you will sometimes see osteoscute for osteoderm.

Dinorider d'Andoandor said...

looking cool!