Seemingly ever present in toys and games, Sauropelta was an early Cretaceous nodosaurid. While not spectacularly large at 5+ meters (17 feet) long and 1.5 tons, it was spectacularly armored. Twin rows of spikes increasing in size until meeting massive shoulder spikes, then descending in size from spike to tail; this was coupled with bony scutes imbedded under the skin that were fused so tightly it formed a nearly impenetrable shield from head to tail. This testament to aggressive defense was for good reason: the most common predator of the region was deinonychus, and they preferred from fossil evidence to pounce and slash the necks of prey. Sauropelta would’ve been quite immune to this. Though it was a nodosaur, meaning it had no tail club, fossil evidence suggests that it’s unusually long tail was still capable of powerful swings that could’ve lashed out much faster than its relatives. When it wasn’t combatting marauding raptor packs, Sauropelta was quite at home grazing the low grasses growing in the tidal shorelines of the Interior Seaway and blissfully wandering the rolling hills of early Cretaceous Montana.
- Nearly every dinosaur found in the Cloverly formation and the connecting Antlers formation is very well known. Sauropelta’s contemporaries include Deinonychus, Acrocanthosaurus, Tenontosaurus, Ornithomimus, and Sauroposeidon.
- Sauropelta’s tail had at least 50 vertebrae. The tendons would’ve kept it very stiff to be held out straight, but it would’ve allowed a range of motion high enough to reach its own head if it needed to swing its tail!
- A trackway of Sauropelta footprints was found in Alberta, Canada that helped scientists understand nodosaur and ankylosaur physiology and how they moved. This site is a keystone to ankylosaur understanding.
- It’s name means “Lizard Shield.”
Would you like to see Sauropelta in Jurassic World: Alive?
How do you think it would be in game?
Dinosaurs we would Like #7 - Yutyrannus