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ZIAPELTA

a plant-eating ankylosaurid dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of New Mexico.
ziapelta-sanjuanensis
Pronunciation: zee-uh-PEL-tuh
Meaning: Sun shield
Author/s: Arbour et al. (2014)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Suan Juan, New Mexico
Chart Position: 728

Ziapelta sanjuanensis

Behind Nodocephalosaurus—the knob head lizard, Ziapelta is the second ankylosaurid to be discovered in the De-na-zin member of the Kirtland Formation. Granted, its fossils are few, but sometimes quality really does trump quantity, and its skull and armour sport enough unique features to afford it entry into the valid taxa club.

Ziapelta has unusually tall spikes on the bony yoke that sits over its neck (the cervical half ring) and the horns on the back of its skull are thick and downwards-curving. Its snout has a mixture of flat and bumpy scales which is an unusual feature for an ankylosaurid, as is a prominent triangular scale on its snout, where most other ankylosaurids have a hexagonal scale. All in all, New Mexico's Ziapelta seems most closely related to Scolosaurus and other ankylosaurids from Canada. But strangely, its North American bedfellow Nodocephalosaurus more closely resembles Saichania and other ankylosaurids from the Late Cretaceous of Mongolia.

Lest we forget; there is another ankylosaurid that dwelt in the Kirtland Formation, and its name is Ahshislepelta. However, it's from the lower, and thus older, Hunter Wash Member, and the pair cannot be directly compared because there is little overlapping material. Fossil-wise, associated osteoderms (bony plates of armour that were embedded in the skin) are the only parts that Ziapelta and Ahshislepelta currently have in common, but those of the latter have a smoother surface texture than those of the former.
(Sun shield from San Juan)Etymology
Ziapelta is derived from "Zia" (the sun symbol with four sets of rays; of religious significance to the Zia Pueblo people of New Mexico and the iconic symbol on the state flag of New Mexico) and the Latin "pelte" (shield), referring to the armour plates found on all ankylosaurids. The species epithet, sanjuanensis, means "from San Juan" (the county and the basin) in Latin.
Discovery
The remains of Ziapelta were discovered in the De-na-zin Member of the Kirtland Formation, Bisti/De-na-zin Wilderness, San Juan County, New Mexico, USA, by Bob Sullivan (leader of a team from the State Museum of Pennsylvania and New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science) in 2011. The holotype (NMMNH P-64484) is a complete skull and some armour. A second specimen (NMMNH P-66930, a complete first cervical half ring—a bony arch that protects the back of the neck) was found around 8.4 km to the west.
Estimations
Timeline:
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Late Cretaceous
Stage: Campanian
Age range: 84-71 mya
Stats:
Est. max. length: 6 meters
Est. max. hip height: ?
Est. max. weight: 2.5 tons
Diet: Herbivore
References
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "ZIAPELTA :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 18th Dec 2017.
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