Gobisaurus

The Gobisaurus is a unique ankylosaur that inhabited China during the Early Cretaceous period. Its generic name means “Gobi Lizard,” as in “Desert Lizard” to symbolize its provenance. The specific name, on the other hand, translates to “hidden from view” because it was neglected for over three decades. Only one specimen attributed to the Gobisaurus has been found to date.

Key Facts

DomainDescription
Gobisaurus pronunciationgoh-bee-sore-us
What does Gobisaurus mean?Gobi lizard
Dinosaur typeArmoured
On the menuHerbivorous
Length26 feet (8 meters)
Height7 feet 4 inches (2.2 meters)
WeightAbout 4000 lbs (3.6 tons)
Life expectancyUnknown
Legs used to get aroundQuadruped
Estimated top speed9 km/h  (5.6 mph) 
When they livedEarly Cretaceous era 121-99 million years ago
Where they have been found?China

When & Where

Gobisaurus remains were discovered during Sino-Soviet expeditions (1959-1960) in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. The fossils were at first ignored until they got selected for a traveling exhibition across the globe dubbed the China-Canada Dinosaur Project. In 2001, Mathew K. Vickaryous et al. named and described the type species Gobisaurus domoculus. 

Size & Weight

Gobisaurus was a large dinosaur. Experts estimate its body length at eight meters and its body mass at 3.5 tons. Its skull was relatively smaller measuring only 45 cm in length and width. The cross-section of its eye sockets covered about one-fifth of the skull’s length. They had tough skin that covered their bones and protected them from being attacked by predators.

Mobility & Diet

Gobisaurus’ diet consisted of plants, leaves, and fruits. It likely ate leaves from trees such as conifers and ferns and lived in groups of about five individuals. Its fossil structure also suggests that it was closer to the ground. Hence it most certainly fed on low-lying vegetation. Like most ankylosaurs, the Gobisaurus walked on fours and was estimated to move at a top speed of 9km/h.

Interesting Points

  • Gobisaurus existed from 100 to 120 years ago.
  • The natural habitat of the Gobisaurus is thought to have been the desert hence its name.
  • They survived harsh climate conditions in the Gobi desert.
  • Though there is no scientific consensus, it is argued that the Gobisaurus had a claw-shaped tail that it used for protection. 

Featured Image Credit: Foolp, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons