The Gargoyleosaurus comes with a name that evokes images of stone-carved monsters perched on gothic buildings. Yet, this was a real-life creature that roamed our planet during the Late Jurassic Period. This dinosaur, whose name literally translates to “gargoyle lizard,” was a formidable presence in its time thanks to its heavy body armor and unique physical characteristics.
In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of the Gargoyleosaurus and explore its life, characteristics, and the environment it once called home. We will also discuss its discovery and the significant contributions it has made to our understanding of the dinosaur world.
Gargoyleosaurus Key Facts
|Meaning of name||Gargoyle Lizard|
|Type Species||Gargoyleosaurus parkpinorum|
|When it Lived||155.7 to 145.0 MYA|
|Epoch||Late/Upper Kimmeridgian to Early/Lower Tithonian|
|Length||9.8 to 11.5 ft|
|Height||2.6 to 3.3 ft|
|Weight||0.3 to 0.8 tons|
|Mobility||Moved on four legs|
|First Discovery||1995 by Jeffrie Parker and Tyler Pinegar|
|Location of first find||Morrison Formation, Bone Cabin Quarry, Albany County, Wyoming, USA|
|First Described by||1998 by Kenneth Carpenter, Clifford Miles & Karen Cloward|
Gargoyleosaurus Origins, Taxonomy and Timeline
The Gargoyleosaurus, or “gargoyle lizard,” gets its name from the gargoyle-like appearance of its skull. The name is a fitting tribute to the dinosaur’s unique physical characteristics, which include a heavily armored body and a long, narrow beak.
In terms of taxonomy, it belongs to the Ornithischia order. Within this order, it’s part of the Thyreophora clade and the Ankylosauria suborder. It is a member of the Nodosauridae family and the only known species in the genus is Gargoyleosaurus parkpinorum.
This dinosaur lived during the Late Jurassic Period, specifically in the Late/Upper Kimmeridgian to Early/Lower Tithonian. This time frame places it earlier than most other ankylosaurs, which predominantly lived during the Cretaceous period. The Gargoyleosaurus offers a glimpse into the evolution of ankylosaurs and provides valuable insights into the world of dinosaurs during the Late Jurassic Period.
Listen to Pronunciation
Discovery & Fossil Evidence
The first fossil was discovered in 1995 by Jeffrie Parker and Tyler Pinegar in the Morrison Formation of the Bone Cabin Quarry in Wyoming, USA. The species was later described in 1998 by Kenneth Carpenter and his team. The holotype, DMNH 27726, is housed in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
This is one of the oldest known ankylosaurs and its discovery has provided valuable insights into the evolution of this group of dinosaurs. The fossil evidence shows that despite its geological age, it had features seen in Late Cretaceous ankylosaurs. This includes the fusion of bone armor to the surface of the skull and closure of two skull openings.
This discovery has significantly contributed to our understanding of the Ankylosauria group. The well-preserved fossils have provided a wealth of information about the dinosaur’s physical characteristics, diet, and habitat. This herbivorous dinosaur is a testament to the rich diversity of life that existed during the Late Jurassic Period.
Gargoyleosaurus Size and Description
This was a small but formidable dinosaur thanks to its heavy body armor and unique physical characteristics. Despite its small size, it was a force to be reckoned with due to its defensive capabilities.
Short description of Gargoyleosaurus
It was a small armored dinosaur that walked on four legs and had a stiff tail. This herbivore had protective body armor on the upper surface of its body and tail, consisting of hollow bony oval plates. It also had a series of spikes running along each side of its body. The dinosaur had a long, narrow beak with teeth on both the upper and lower inner surface, which is unusual for ankylosaurs.
Size and Weight of Type Species
It was about 9.8 to 11.5 feet long and was roughly 2.6 to 3.3 feet tall to the top of the shoulder. It’s estimated that it may have weighed about a half a ton, give or take. Despite its small size, this was an intimidating dinosaur thanks to its heavy body armor and defensive spikes.
The Dinosaur in Detail
This dinosaur stands out for its unique features among ankylosaurs. Its body armor consisted of hollow bony oval plates, which provided it with protection against predators. The series of spikes running along each side of its body added to its defensive capabilities. Its hollow armor may have helped to reduce its body weight without compromising its defensive capabilities.
The Gargoyleosaurus also had a long, narrow beak with teeth on both the upper and lower inner surface, which is unusual for ankylosaurs. This feature suggests that it had a specialized diet, possibly feeding on specific types of vegetation. It also had a straight nasal passage, which is a unique feature among ankylosaurs. This feature may have played a role in the dinosaur’s breathing or sense of smell.
The Gargoyleosaurus in its Natural Habitat
This herbivore lived during the Late Jurassic Period during a time when the earth was dominated by dinosaurs. The environment during this time was warm and humid with lush vegetation covering the land. It likely inhabited forested areas where it could find plenty of vegetation to feed on.
As an herbivore, it likely fed on a variety of plants. Its long, narrow beak and teeth on both the upper and lower inner surface suggest that it had a specialized diet, possibly feeding on specific types of vegetation. Its heavy body armor and defensive spikes would have provided it with protection against predators, allowing it to focus on feeding and survival.
It likely moved on all fours and used its heavy body armor and defensive spikes to deter predators. Despite its small size, this dinosaur had a formidable presence in its environment, contributing to the rich diversity of life during the Late Jurassic Period.
Interesting Points about Gargoyleosaurus
- It is one of the oldest known ankylosaurs, providing valuable insights into the evolution of this group of dinosaurs.
- Its heavy armor and defensive spikes contributed greatly to its frightening appearance despite its small size.
- The long, narrow beak with teeth on both the upper and lower inner surface suggests a specialized diet.
- It had a straight nasal passage, a unique feature among ankylosaurs that may have played a role in its breathing or sense of smell.
- The hollow armor may have helped to reduce its body weight without compromising its defensive capabilities.
In the late Jurassic period, a fascinating ecosystem thrived, with the armored Gargoyleosaurus at its heart. This dinosaur, about the size of a small car, navigated a world teeming with giants and predators–each playing a unique role in the delicate balance of prehistoric life. Imagine the Gargoyleosaurus, its body covered in bony plates and spikes, lumbering across the landscape, a compact fortress on legs amidst a land of titans.
Among these titans was the Allosaurus, a fierce predator larger than the Gargoyleosaurus. This carnivore had a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth. The Allosaurus was a constant threat, but the Gargoyleosaurus was no easy prey. Its armor served as a strong deterrent, a shield against the Allosaurus’ deadly bite. The Gargoyleosaurus, in turn, had to be cautious and always aware of the lurking danger. Its survival hinged on its ability to outmaneuver this relentless hunter.
Then there were the colossal herbivores, the Apatosaurus and the Diplodocus, each stretching to lengths of a basketball court. These gentle giants and their long necks were a stark contrast to the compact Gargoyleosaurus. They grazed peacefully, indifferent to the smaller dinosaur, as their size alone was enough to deter most predators. The Gargoyleosaurus shared the same resources, nibbling on low-lying vegetation that the larger dinosaurs overlooked.
The Stegosaurus was roughly the same size as the Gargoyleosaurus. With its row of triangular plates and spiked tail, it was an equally armored counterpart. Their interactions were likely a mix of competition and indifference, each respecting the other’s defensive adaptations. In this vibrant ecosystem, the Gargoyleosaurus held its own, a testament to its resilience and adaptability. Its life was a dance of survival, a delicate balance between competition and coexistence that paints a vivid picture of the dynamic world of the late Jurassic period.
List Of All Dinosaurs
We have created a list of all dinosaurs we have covered here, sorted across the seven main groups of dinosaurs. We also include information about their type of diet, (omnivore, herbivore or carnivore) and the time they lived.
Frequently Asked Questions
The name translates to “gargoyle lizard,” in reference to the gargoyle-like appearance of its skull.
It lived during the Late Jurassic Period, specifically between 155.7 to 145.0 million years ago.
It was an herbivore, likely feeding on a variety of plants. Its long, narrow beak and teeth on both the upper and lower inner surface suggest that it had a specialized diet.
It had heavy body armor and defensive spikes, which provided it with protection against predators.
The first fossil was discovered in the Morrison Formation, Bone Cabin Quarry, Albany County, Wyoming, USA.
The information in this article is based on various sources, drawing on scientific research, fossil evidence, and expert analysis. The aim is to provide a comprehensive and accurate overview of the Gargoyleosaurus. However, please be aware that our understanding of dinosaurs and their world is constantly evolving as new discoveries are made
This article was last fact-checked: Joey Arboleda, 07-24-2023