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Temporal range: Late Jurassic - Late Cretaceous, 155–66 Ma
Gargoyleosaurus skeleton cast
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Dinosauria
Clade: Ornithischia
Clade: Thyreophora
Clade: Ankylosauria
Clade: Euankylosauria
Family: Nodosauridae
Marsh, 1890

Acanthopholididae Nopcsa, 1902
Acanthopholidae Nopcsa, 1917
?Hylaeosauridae Nopcsa, 1902
Palaeoscincidae Nopcsa, 1918
Panoplosauridae Nopcsa, 1929
Struthiosauridae Kuhn, 1966

Nodosauridae is a family of ankylosaurian dinosaurs, from the Late Jurassic to the Late Cretaceous period in what is now North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.[1]


The holotype of Borealopelta markmitchelli on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum

Nodosaurids, like their close relatives the ankylosaurids, were heavily armored dinosaurs adorned with rows of bony armor nodules and spines (osteoderms), which were covered in keratin sheaths. All nodosaurids, like other ankylosaurians, were medium-sized to large, heavily built, quadrupedal, herbivorous dinosaurs, possessing small, leaf-shaped teeth. Unlike ankylosaurids, nodosaurids lacked mace-like tail clubs, instead having flexible tail tips. Many nodosaurids had spikes projecting outward from their shoulders. One particularly well-preserved nodosaurid "mummy", the holotype of Borealopelta markmitchelli, preserved a nearly complete set of armor in life position, as well as the keratin covering and mineralized remains of the underlying skin, which indicate reddish dorsal pigments in a countershading pattern.[2][3]


The family Nodosauridae was erected by Othniel Charles Marsh in 1890, and anchored on the genus Nodosaurus.[4][5]

The clade Nodosauridae was first informally defined by Paul Sereno in 1998 as "all ankylosaurs closer to Panoplosaurus than to Ankylosaurus," a definition followed by Vickaryous, Teresa Maryańska, and Weishampel in 2004. Vickaryous et al. considered two genera of nodosaurids to be of uncertain placement (incertae sedis): Struthiosaurus and Animantarx, and considered the most primitive member of the Nodosauridae to be Cedarpelta.[6] Following the publication of the PhyloCode, Nodosauridae needed to be formally defined following certain parameters, including that the type genus Nodosaurus was required as an internal specifier. In formally naming Nodosauridae, Madzia and colleagues followed the previously established use for the clade, defining it as the largest clade including Nodosaurus textilis but not Ankylosaurus magniventris. As all phylogenies referenced included both Panoplosaurus and Nodosaurus within the same group relative to Ankylosaurus, the addition of another internal specifier was deemed unnecessary. The 2018 phylogenetic analysis of Rivera-Sylva and colleagues was used as the primary reference for Panoplosaurini by Madzia et al., in addition to the supplemental analyses of Thompson et al. (2012), Arbour and Currie (2016), Arbour et al. (2016), and Brown et al. (2017).[7][8][9][10][11][12]


The highly isolated Antarctopelta, from the late Cretaceous of Antarctica, was previously thought to be the most basal nodosaurid, but a 2021 study found it to belong to the Parankylosauria, a separate basal lineage of ankylosaurs restricted to the Southern Hemisphere.[13] However, the 2022 description of Patagopelta, a nodosaurine from South America, suggests that true nodosaurids also inhabited Gondwana, having colonized South America during a biotic interchange from North America during the Campanian.[14]


The near simultaneous appearance of nodosaurids in both North America and Europe is worthy of consideration. Europelta is the oldest nodosaurid from Europe, it is derived from the lower Albian Escucha Formation. The oldest western North American nodosaurid is Sauropelta, from the lower Albian Little Sheep Mudstone Member of the Cloverly Formation, at an age of 108.5±0.2 million years. Eastern North American fossils seem older. Teeth of Priconodon crassus from the Arundel Clay of the Potomac Group of Maryland, which dates near the Aptian–Albian boundary. The Propanoplosaurus hatchling from the base of the underlying Patuxent Formation, dating to the upper Aptian, is the oldest known nodosaurid.[4]

Chronostratigraphy of nodosaurid genera[12][4][6][9][15]
PaleogeneCretaceousJurassicOligoceneEocenePaleoceneLate CretaceousEarly CretaceousLate JurassicMiddle JurassicEarly JurassicDenversaurusPanoplosaurusEdmontoniaPatagopeltaAnimantarxTexasetesStruthiosaurusHungarosaurusStegopeltaPawpawsaurusEuropeltaGlyptodontopeltaAhshislepeltaInvictarxRhadinosaurusDanubiosaurusNiobrarasaurusAcantholipanPeloroplitesNodosaurusZhejiangosaurusBorealopeltaSilvisaurusPriconodonPropanoplosaurusTatankacephalusSauropeltaAcanthopholisAnoplosaurusDongyangopeltaHoplitosaurusHorshamosaurusGastonia burgeiSauroplitesPolacanthusHylaeosaurusTaohelongMymoorapeltaGargoyleosaurusSarcolestesOligoceneEocenePaleoceneLate CretaceousEarly CretaceousLate JurassicMiddle JurassicEarly JurassicPaleogeneCretaceousJurassic

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Carpenter, Kenneth; Breithaupt, Brent (1986). "Latest Cretaceous Occurrence of Nodosaurid Ankylosaurs (Dinosauria, Ornithischia) in Western North America and the Gradual Extinction of the Dinosaurs". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 6 (3): 251–257. doi:10.1080/02724634.1986.10011619. ISSN 0272-4634. JSTOR 4523098.
  2. ^ Smith, Craig S. (12 May 2017). "'Dinosaur Mummy' Emerges From the Oil Sands of Alberta". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  3. ^ Davis, Nicola (2017-08-03). "Heavily armoured dinosaur had ginger camouflage to deter predators – study". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  4. ^ a b c Kirkland, J. I.; Alcalá, L.; Loewen, M. A.; Espílez, E.; Mampel, L.; Wiersma, J. P. (2013). Butler, Richard J (ed.). "The Basal Nodosaurid Ankylosaur Europelta carbonensis n. gen., n. sp. From the Lower Cretaceous (Lower Albian) Escucha Formation of Northeastern Spain". PLOS ONE. 8 (12): e80405. Bibcode:2013PLoSO...880405K. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080405. PMC 3847141. PMID 24312471.
  5. ^ Burns, Michael E. (2008). "Taxonomic utility of ankylosaur (Dinosauria, Ornithischia) osteoderms: Glyptodontopelta mimus Ford, 2000: a test case". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 28 (4): 1102–1109. doi:10.1671/0272-4634-28.4.1102. S2CID 140672072.
  6. ^ a b Vickaryous, M. K., Maryanska, T., and Weishampel, D. B. (2004). Chapter Seventeen: Ankylosauria. in The Dinosauria (2nd edition), Weishampel, D. B., Dodson, P., and Osmólska, H., editors. University of California Press.
  7. ^ Madzia, D.; Arbour, V.M.; Boyd, C.A.; Farke, A.A.; Cruzado-Caballero, P.; Evans, D.C. (2021). "The phylogenetic nomenclature of ornithischian dinosaurs". PeerJ. 9: e12362. doi:10.7717/peerj.12362. PMC 8667728. PMID 34966571.
  8. ^ Thompson, R.S.; Parish, J.C.; Maidment, S.C.R.; Barrett, P.M. (2012). "Phylogeny of the ankylosaurian dinosaurs (Ornithischia: Thyreophora)". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 10 (2): 301–312. doi:10.1080/14772019.2011.569091. S2CID 86002282.
  9. ^ a b Arbour, V.M.; Currie, P.J. (2016). "Systematics, phylogeny and palaeobiogeography of the ankylosaurid dinosaurs". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 14 (5): 385–444. doi:10.1080/14772019.2015.1059985. S2CID 214625754.
  10. ^ Rivera-Sylva, H.E.; Frey, E.; Stinnesbeck, W.; Carbot-Chanona, G.; Sanchez-Uribe, I.E.; Guzmán-Gutiérrez, J.R. (2018). "Paleodiversity of Late Cretaceous Ankylosauria from Mexico and their phylogenetic significance". Swiss Journal of Palaeontology. 137: 83–93. doi:10.1007/s13358-018-0153-1. S2CID 134924657.
  11. ^ Arbour, V.M.; Zanno, L.E.; Gates, T. (2016). "Ankylosaurian dinosaur palaeoenvironmental associations were influenced by extirpation, sea-level fluctuation, and geodispersal". Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 449: 289–299. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.02.033.
  12. ^ a b Brown, C.M.; Henderson, D.M.; Vinther, J.; Fletcher, I.; Sistiaga, A.; Herrera, J.; Summons, R.E. (2017). "An Exceptionally Preserved Three-Dimensional Armored Dinosaur Reveals Insights into Coloration and Cretaceous Predator-Prey Dynamics". Current Biology. 27 (16): 2514–2521. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2017.06.071. PMID 28781051. S2CID 5182644.
  13. ^ Soto-Acuña, Sergio; Vargas, Alexander O.; Kaluza, Jonatan; Leppe, Marcelo A.; Botelho, Joao F.; Palma-Liberona, José; Simon-Gutstein, Carolina; Fernández, Roy A.; Ortiz, Héctor; Milla, Verónica; Aravena, Bárbara (2021-12-01). "Bizarre tail weaponry in a transitional ankylosaur from subantarctic Chile". Nature. 600 (7888): 259–263. Bibcode:2021Natur.600..259S. doi:10.1038/s41586-021-04147-1. ISSN 1476-4687. PMID 34853468. S2CID 244799975.
  14. ^ Riguetti, Facundo; Pereda-Suberbiola, Xabier; Ponce, Denis; Salgado, Leonardo; Apesteguía, Sebastián; Rozadilla, Sebastián; Arbour, Victoria (2022-12-31). "A new small-bodied ankylosaurian dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous of North Patagonia (Río Negro Province, Argentina)". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 20 (1): 2137441. doi:10.1080/14772019.2022.2137441. ISSN 1477-2019. S2CID 254212751.
  15. ^ McDonald, A.T.; Wolfe, D.G. (2018). "A new nodosaurid ankylosaur (Dinosauria: Thyreophora) from the Upper Cretaceous Menefee Formation of New Mexico". PeerJ. 6: 6:e5435. doi:10.7717/peerj.5435. PMC 6110256. PMID 30155354.

Further reading[edit]

  • Carpenter, K. (2001). "Phylogenetic analysis of the Ankylosauria." In Carpenter, K., (ed.) 2001: The Armored Dinosaurs. Indiana University Press, Bloomington & Indianapolis, 2001, pp. xv-526
  • Osi, Attila (2005). Hungarosaurus tormai, a new ankylosaur (Dinosauria) from the Upper Cretaceous of Hungary. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 25(2):370-383, June 2003.

External links[edit]