Sauropelta Sore-oh-pel-tah, lizard shield, was an Early Cretaceous armored dinosaur that may be a predecessor to the later and more heavily armored ankylosaurids. The preceding Late Jurassic fauna is replaced with a fauna of dromaeosaurs, ornithopods, and nodosaurs like Sauropelta.
Sauropelta had a long, narrow skull with a flat roof and tapering snout, bands of large and small shields across its back, and may have also had spines sticking out from its sides. It had a narrow snout and a broad belly with wide hips. The front legs were shorter than the back legs and the feet had four toes. The spines formed two parallel rows on each side of the neck. The upper row of spines pointed up and backwards while the lower row pointed out and there were two rows of three large spines. The tail makes up half the body length, but there is no tail club.
Length 15 - 20 ft. Weight 2 tons.
Sauropelta selectively browsed upon the low-growing soft vegetation. Its defense against predators like Deinonychus would have been hunkering down, using armor and spikes for protection.
History of Discovery
Discovered by Brown in 1930’s. Known from partial skeletons, 1 crushed skull, isolated skeletal elements and armor.
Found in North America, Montana and Wyoming, in semi-arid plains with forested rivers with a short rainy season. The low lying floodplains covered in conifers around rivers that drained into the shallow inland sea to the north and east, carrying sediment eroded from the low mountains to the west.
Paul, G. (2010). The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs (pp. 5577). Princeton, New Jersey: University Press Princeton
Worth, G. (1999). The Dinosaur Encyclopaedia (pp. 2082). Scarborough, Western Australia: HyperWorks Reference Software.
Sauropelta. (n.d.). Retrieved December 12, 2014, from http:// www.prehistoric-wildlife.com/species/s/sauropelta.html
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