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Pinacosaurus grangeri. See more dinosaur images.

Brian Franczak

PINACOSAURUS (pie-NAK-oh-SORE-us)

Period: Late Cretaceous

Order, Suborder, Family: Ornithischia, Thyreophora, Ankylosauridae

Location: Asia (China, Mongolia)

Length: 16 feet (4.8 meters)

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Pinacosaurus was one of the first armored dinosaurs found in Asia. An expedition from the American Museum of Natural History went to Mongolia to search for traces of early man; instead they found dinosaur eggs and skeletons.

Pinacosaurus must have lived in a fairly dry desert region because almost all of its fossils have been found in sand dune deposits. Scientists do not know what Pinacosaurus ate, but it and several other herbivorous (plant-eating) dinosaurs were found in the same deposits, so some food was available. Recently, a group of five juvenile skeletons of Pinacosaurus were found huddled together. They probably were caught by a sandstorm and were buried alive.

The skull of Pinacosaurus is unusual because the entire surface of the skull was not covered with bone plates. Instead, there were few plates and they were small. The plates covered only parts of the skull. But in all other aspects, Pinacosaurus looked like most other ankylosaurids. A collar of armor plates covered its neck, plates covered its body and tail, and it had a bone-club on the end of its tail. Except for some unknown large teeth found with Pinacosaurus, the only predatory dinosaur was the small sickle-clawed Velociraptor. But Pinacosaurus had little worry; a blow from its tail club could have killed it.

Syrmosaurus was the name used by Soviet paleontologists to describe Pinacosaurus.