Dracopelta (from Latin draco, dragon and Greek πέλτη, peltē, "small shield") was an ankylosaurian dinosaur from Portugal, described by Peter Galton in 1980. When Galton described the only known specimen, he referred it to the Kimmeridgian age (Late Jurassic) of the locality of Ribamar. However, to complicate matters, there are two localities nearby called Ribamar in the Estremadura region of Portugal. The first, near Mafra, is dated as Early Cretaceous, and the second, near Lourinhã, as Late Jurassic. Antunes and Mateus (2003), considered the Late Jurassic age to be more likely.
The holotype of D. zbyszewsii is a partial skeleton that consists of a rib cage with thirteen dorsal vertebrae and five dermal scutes.
Dracopelta was the first ankylosaur recognized from the Late Jurassic and remains one of the most primitive known genera referred to the Ankylosauria. Though originally placed within the Nodosauridae, Vickaryous et al. (2004) considered Dracopelta Ankylosauria incertae sedis.
It's difficult to estimate the animal's size from the fragmentary remains, but it was clearly a small dinosaur, approximately 2 feet (1 m) long.
As an ankylosaur, it was almost certainly an herbivore.
- Antunes, M. T., and Mateus, O. 2003. Dinosaurs of Portugal. Comptes Rendus Palevol 2:77-95
- Galton, P. M. 1980. Partial skeleton of Dracopelta zbyszewskii n. gen. and n. sp., an ankylosaurian dinosaur from the Upper Jurassic of Portugal. Geobios 13(3):451-457
- Vickaryous, Maryanska, and Weishampel 2004. Chapter Seventeen: Ankylosauria. in The Dinosauria (2nd edition), Weishampel, D. B., Dodson, P., and Osmólska, H., editors. University of California Press.