Acanthopholis (meaning “spiny scales”) was an armored, quadrupedal (walked on four legs), plant-eating dinosaur from the early Cretaceous period. Its armor was rows of oval plates set into its skin, plus it had spikes jutting out of its neck and shoulder area along the spine. It was about 15 feet long (4 m) and weighed roughly 380 kg.
When Acanthpholis lived
Acanthopholis lived during the early Cretaceous Period, about 115-91 million years ago.
This huge, heavy reptile was an herbivore (it ate only plants). It had to eat a huge amount of low-lying plant material to sustain itself so its gut must have been very large. It probably had a fermentation compartment to aid in the digestion of the tough plant material, producing prodigious amounts of gas.
Acanthopholis was an ankylosaur, whose intelligence (as measured by its relative brain to body weight, or EQ) was low among the dinosaurs.
Ankylosaur trackways were found in 1996 near Sucre, Bolivia, South America showing that these huge creatures could run at a “decent jog,” according to Christian Meyer, a Swiss paleontologist working at the site. Speed estimates are made using the distance between the footprints, the animal’s leg length, the pattern of the tracks, and other factors.
Discovery of fossils
Partial fossils have been found in England. Acanthopholis was named by the British biologist Thomas H. Huxley in 1865.
Acanthopholis belonged to the:
- Kingdom Animalia (animals)
- Phylum Chordata (having a hollow nerve chord ending in a brain)
- Class Archosauria (diapsids with socket-set teeth, etc.)
- Order Ornithischia - bird-hipped, herbivorous, quadrupedal dinosaurs
- Suborder Thyreophora (Enoplosauria) - armored dinosaurs
- Suborder Ankylosauria - plated and armored over most of the body
- Family Nodosauridae (a group of smaller, primitive ankylosaurs with no tail clubs; it included Hylaeosaurus, Edmontonia, Sauropelta, Silvisaurus, Nodosaurus, Panoplosaurus, etc.).
- Genus Acanthopholis
Names with an asterisk (*) were not dinosaurs.