Gastonia burgei – Related to Polacanthus

Discovered in the same quarry as fossils of the fearsome Theropod Utahraptor (Grand County, Utah), the heavily armoured Gastonia is believed to be a close relative of the English polacanthid called Polacanthus (P. foxii and P. rudgwickensis).  More fossil material has been ascribed to the Gastonia genus from this one location, believed to represent a substantial bone bed than from any other member of the polacanthid clade.  Unfortunately, such is the wealth of isolated and fragmentary dermal armour found at the fossil dig site, that palaeontologists remain uncertain as to the layout and orientation of this dinosaur’s defensive armour.  This makes reconstructions of this plant-eating dinosaur very difficult.  Measuring up to five metres in length, this dinosaur is reputed to be the most heavily armoured of all the dinosaurs known to science.  It had a sacral shield of thick armour over the hips and pairs of spines that ran down the body from the neck and shoulders.  These probably stuck out sideways and upwards to afford this creature maximum protection.  The tail was long and narrow and it probably had sharp spikes sticking out of the side which would have have made the tail a formidable defensive weapon.  Examination of the hip bones and femur indicate that the tail could be swung in a horizontal arc with considerable force, easily enough force to knock an attacking Utahraptor off its feet.

An Illustration of Gastonia (G. burgei)

A drawing of the heavily armoured Gastonia.

A drawing of the heavily armoured Gastonia.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Named in 1998, after Robert Gaston, this dinosaur with its heavy body and spiky armour would have been a formidable opponent for any hungry Theropod brave enough to attack.

Everything Dinosaur stocks a range of armoured dinosaur models and replicas: Armoured Dinosaur Models and Toys

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