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Ankylosauria

SAICHANIA
chulsanensis


 
Meaning of Name: Beautiful
Classification: ANKYLOSAURIA; Ankylosauridae
Age: Late Cretaceous (Campanian), Barun Goyot Formation, 75 million years ago
Locality: Gobi Desert, Southern Peoples' Republic of Mongolia
Cast Size: 93cm in length

Within the front of the skull of Saichania chulsanensis is an elaborate network of thin bones that evidently served to warm and filter the air which entered its lungs.
This is a feature common to all mammals, found in some of the mammal-like reptiles and otherwise all but unknown in reptiles with the exception of one other ankylosaur, Pinacosaurus grangeri . In a sense, this is an evolutionary example of 'reinventing the wheel' for this structure evolved once among the ancestors of these dinosaurs and once among the ancestors of the mammals. The reason why these armoured dinosaurs in particular would benefit from such a structure and why other dinosaurs evidently had no need for one is not clear.
Ossified tendons stiffened the tail of Saichania chulsanensis . The enlarged bulbous structure of bone at the end of the tail has frequently been interpreted as useful for clubbing attacking predators. However, the bone is actually quite light, as it is full of passages for blood vessels and thus does not seem particularly useful as a club.
It has recently been suggested that being at the end of the tail, this expansion would confuse a predator by making them mistake it for the animal's head.
Saichania had an abundance of protective plates of bone in the skin all over its body, especially on its back, and some of these plates fused into half-rings particularly over the vulnerable neck region right behind the head.

Saichania truly was a dinosaurian 'armoured tank.'