A brand new “spiky-headed” armored dinosaur has been discovered in Utah.
Akainacephalus johnsoni is the latest prehistoric wonder to be unearthed at the fossil hotspot known as the Kaiparowitz Formation — a formation that lies within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.
The heavily-armored, herbivorous dinosaur is the most complete ankylosaurid dinosaur ever recorded in the state. This particular specimen has been dated at 76 million years old, and is one of the oldest ankylosaurids ever found in North America.
Ankylosaurids are a subset of armored dinosaurs that appeared around 122 million years ago. The robust animals had leaf-shaped teeth, scute-covered bodies, short domed snouts, and — most notably — clubs on the ends of their tails.
In addition to these unusual characteristics, Akainacephalusis flaunts a heavily ornamented skull. The name literally translates to “spiky head.”
The Natural History Museum of Utah‘s Chief Curator Randall Irmis said the find was highly unusual. “We have a large portion of the skeleton, including nearly all of the skull, a lot of the vertebral column, the pelvis, as well as the limbs and ribs, and a lot of the armor, as well. It’s pretty rare to find so much of the skeleton in one place.”
There’s likely more to be found, too; It is estimated that only 10% of the formation has been explored for fossils.