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EUROPELTA

a plant-eating struthiosaurine nodosaurid dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Spain.
europelta.png
Pronunciation: yoo-ro-PEL-tuh
Meaning: European shield
Author/s: Kirkland et al. (2013)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Teruel, Spain
Chart Position: 682

Europelta carbonensis

Five meters long, two tons in weight, a meter tall and just as wide, Europelta carbonensis was discovered in a century-old open-pit coal mine at Ariño, northeastern Spain, and is the most complete nodosaurid ankylosaur from the entire Cretaceous period of Europe. Nodosaurids had replaced polacanthids as the main armoured dinosaurs in both Europe and North America by the late-Early Cretaceous, with the age of known individuals prompting paleontologists to suspect that those two continents became separated by rising sea levels during the Barremian (130-125 mya). However, Europelta prompted a re-study of the age of nodosaurids which pulled the segregation of Europe and America into the Aptian (125-112 mya), after which genera from each side of the pond evolved design quirks relevant to their respective eco-system. Europelta is the oldest known member of the European branch. It wasn't the first member to be named though, not by a long chalk.

Europe's first named nodosaurid is Austria's Struthiosaurus austriacus which was coined in 1871 by Emanuel Bunzel who thought it was a predator and assigned it to a new family Ornithocephala ("Bird Heads"). It doesn't have a bird's head but does, however, sport features in common with Europelta, Anoplosaurus and Hungarosaurus, and the four critters form a Europe-exclusive family of nodosaurids known as the Struthiosaurinae; "the most inclusive clade containing Europelta but not Cedarpelta, Peloroplites, Sauropelta or Edmontonia". It's a travesty that poor old Struthiosaurus doesn't even get a mention in the clade that bears his name!

Within Ankylosauria, struthiosaurines are the narrow-snouted, sacral armour-shielded, relatively long and slender-limbed branch of the moderately armoured, medium-sized nodosaurids (Nodosauridae), which are the tail-stiffening-tendon-lacking, clubless brethren of the larger, heavily-armoured ankylosaurids (Ankylosauridae). Dating from the Albian (112-99 mya) of the Early Cretaceous age, Europelta is the oldest known member of Struthiosaurinae and by far the largest.
(Europe’s shield, from the coal)Etymology
Europelta is derived from "Euro" (a contraction of Europe, the continent of its discovery) and the Greek "pelte" (shield). The species epithet, carbonensis, means "from the coal" and refers to the fossil locality in the Santa María coal mine at Ariño, which has been extracting coal since 1919.
Discovery
The remains of Europelta were discovered at the Santa María lignite ("brown coal") mine in the Escucha Formation at Ariño in the province of Teruel, Aragon, Spain, in 2011.
The holotype (AR-1/10) is a partial skeleton including a mostly complete skull, some teeth, five neck vertebrae (with two ribs), eight back vertebrae (with three ribs plus seven rib fragments), three tail vertebrae, four chevrons, shoulder bones, two partial upper arm bones, and a complete pelvis. A second, somewhat smaller specimen (AR-1/10) was discovered around 200m from the first.
Estimations
Timeline:
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Early Cretaceous
Stage: Albian
Age range: 113-110 mya
Stats:
Est. max. length: 5 meters
Est. max. hip height: 1 meters
Est. max. weight: 2 tons
Diet: Herbivore
Family Tree:
Dinosauria
Ornithischia
Thyreophora
Ankylosauria
Nodosauridae
Struthiosaurinae
Europelta
carbonensis
References
• James I. Kirkland, Luis Alcalá, Mark A. Loewen, Eduardo Espílez, Luis Mampel and Jelle P. Wiersma (2013) "The basal nodosaurid ankylosaur Europelta carbonensis n. gen., n. sp. from the Lower Cretaceous (lower Albian) Escucha Formation of northeastern Spain".
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "EUROPELTA :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 27th Apr 2017.
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