Temporal range: Campanian
|Saichania skeleton on display at Dinosaur Kingdom, Nakasato, Japan|
|Species:||† S. chulsanensis|
Saichania (Mongolian meaning "beautiful one") is a genus of ankylosaurid dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous period. Formerly thought to occur solely in the Barun Goyot Formation at Khulsan, it is now also known from the Nemegt formation at Khermeen Tsav. According to Arbour et al., who recently referred PIN 3142/250 to S. chulsanensis, Saichania is the only ankylosaur definitely known from the Nemegt. It lived around the time of the Campanian–Maastrichtian transition, and early Maastrichtian (Nemegtian) period.
Saichania was described by Teresa Maryańska in 1977, along with Tarchia kielanae. The type specimen of S. chulsanensis consists of a skull and the anterior part of the postcranial skeleton (neck and back vertebrae, shoulder girdle, forelimb, and some armour in life position). Referred specimens include a fragmentary skull roof and associated armour, and an undescribed, almost complete skeleton with skull (see picture).
Saichania was a bulky, heavily armoured dinosaur with a maximum length of about 6.6 metres (22 ft) long. The armour on the top of its head and along its back and flanks were studded with large spikes, and it had a club-shaped tail. The skull had complex air passages, and an unusually solid hard palate. These may have allowed the animal to cool the air that it breathed, and to eat tough plants, suggesting that it lived in a hot, arid, environment. There is even some evidence that the animal may have possessed a salt gland next to its nostrils, which would have further aided it in a desert habitat.
Maryańska classified Saichania as an ankylosaurid related to Pinacosaurus and observed that these two dinosaurs differ from all others in the structure of their nasal cavities. Maryańska provided a differential diagnosis that showed that the two genera were distinct based on morphological differences observed in the bones of the skull and braincase.
- Maryanska, T. (1977). "Ankylosauridae (Dinosauria) from Mongolia". Palaeontologia Polonica 37: 85–151.
- Seebacher, F. (2001). "A new method to calculate allometric length-mass relationships of dinosaurs." Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 21(1): 51–60.
- Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 161. ISBN 1-84028-152-9.
- Arbour V.M. and Currie P.J., 2013, "Euoplocephalus tutus and the Diversity of Ankylosaurid Dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous of Alberta, Canada, and Montana, USA", PLoS ONE 8(5): e62421. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062421