Sunday, October 27, 2013

Gargoyleosaurus: Prehistoric Animal of the Week

Halloween is just a few days away so how about we look at a dinosaur with a particularly spooky name?  Do you know what a gargoyle is?  I bet you don't!  Were you thinking of something like this?

famous gargoyles from Notre Dam.
The term, "gargoyle", is more specific than a stone monster on a building (which are officially called grotesques).  True gargoyles, however, are the statues that act as water spouts like this.

And when the water freezes they look hilarious.

lol butt

They were also the subject of the most bad-ass franchise Disney has ever made.

This show was my life when I was seven.

Gargoyles are interesting because there are really no rules or guidelines for what they are supposed to look like, unlike a lot of other popular monsters.  Well, our dinosaur this week must have inspired something spooky in paleontologists because it is named after these fantastic stone guardians of the night...that also barf rain.  Check out Gargoyleosaurus parkpinorum!

Gargoyleosaurus parkpinorum life reconstruction by Christo[pher DiPiazza.

Gargoyleosaurus lived during the Late Jurassic period about 150 million years ago in what is now Wyoming, USA.  It measured about ten feet long from snout to tail and was an ankylosaur, which means it had heavy bone armor all over its body like its relative, Ankylosaurus.  What is interesting about Gargoyleosaurus, however, is the fact that it lived during the Late Jurassic period (typically ankylosaurs lived during the Cretaceous, millions of years later). 

Gargoyleosaurus skeleton.

Gargoyleosaurus had a long, narrow snout, it's body was adorned with triangular spikes running down its sides, and had almost flat armor plates on its back.  The tail had some small spikes running down the sides as well but it had no bony club.  Later on during the Cretaceous, we can see two distinct kinds of armored dinosaurs, the ankylosaurids, which had short snouts, horns on the backs of their robust skulls and bony tail clubs, and the nodosaurids, which had small heads but commonly had sharp spiky plates running down their sides with no club.  Gargoyleosaurus has physical characteristics from both of these families.  It looks as if an ankylosaurid head was placed on a nodosaurid body.  Gargoyleosaurus may be the common ancestor that would later branch out into these two distinct families millions of years later.

That's all for this week!  As always feel free to comment below or on our facebook page!


Carpenter, K., Miles, C. and Cloward, K. (1998). "Skull of a Jurassic ankylosaur (Dinosauria)." Nature 393: 782-783.

Killbourne, B. and Carpenter, K. (2005). "Redescription of Gargoyleosaurus parkpinorum, a polacanthid ankylosaur from the Upper Jurassic of Albany County, Wyoming". Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, 237, 111-160.

Foster, J. (2007). "Appendix." Jurassic West: The Dinosaurs of the Morrison Formation and Their World. Indiana University Press. pp. 327-329.

1 comment:

  1. At Some point. Can you do Mymoorpelta? Thats another American Jurassic Nodosaur