Ankylosaurus vs. Tuojiangosaurus

Time Period & Environment: Late Cretaceous Lower Scollard Formation of Alberta. Coastal lowlands with giant redwood forests and a warm-temperate climate.

Written By: Emily Bamforth

It begins to rain as the two giants, the Ankylosaurus and the Tuojiangosaurus, face off. Droplets of water fall from the towering boughs of the giant sequoia trees overhead, splashing into puddles on the mossy forest floor. It falls into the eyes of the two dinosaurs squaring off. The Tuojiangosaurus blinks the moisture out of his eyes, shaking his head in irritation. The Ankylosaurus, with his armour-covered eyebrows, doesn’t have to worry. In the distance, thunder rumbles as this monsoon rain sets in.

The Tuojiangosaurus, a three-ton stegosaurid from the Late Jurassic of China, had wandered into the territory of a bull Ankylosaurus. The armoured dinosaur is twice his length and at nearly trice his weight, but the Tuojiangosaurus was not intimidated by size. He shared his Jurassic world with towering long-necked sauropods like Mamenchisaurus.

The Ankylosaurus lets out a low bellow and stamps his feet, swishing his tail club from side to side menacingly. Being built like a walking tank, this impressive display of might is usually all that is needed to convince a rival or a predator that attacking is not a good idea. But the Tuojiangosaurus cannot ‘read’ ankylosaur, as these animals are not known from his native Jurassic China. In response to what he views as a clear challenge, the Tuojiangosaurus responds with a huff, swinging his own tail with its lethal spiked thagomizer at the end.

Despite the bony armour that covers his whole body, the Ankylosaurus is capable of some quick movements. However, his size makes it hard for him to maneuver in the thick understory of flowering plants and ferns. Sensing this, the Tuojiangosaurus strikes first, sliding alongside the larger animal and swinging his spiked tail. Unlike his rival, whose tail was heavy and stiff, the Tuojiangosaurus’ tail is flexible and light. The spikes of his thagomizer make contact with the armour plating along the Ankylosaurus’ flank, but they fail to penetrate the thick, bony scutes.

Bellowing, the Ankylosaurus swings his body sideways with surprising speed. The heavy tailclub at the end of his short tail follows, carrying with it a deadly force. The club catches the Tuojiangosaurus hard in the side, sending him crashing into the trunk of a nearby tree. Lacking body armour, the stegosaurid had little protection against such a blow. As he struggles to his feet, pain erupts along his side where the tailclub made impact. His ribs are badly broken.

The Tuojiangosaurus decides that this is not a hill that is worth dying on. He gets painfully to his feet and struggles away as the Ankylosaurus looks on wearily. Despite being territorial, the Ankylosaurus is not into war mongering. Has no desire to carry the conflict further if his foe retreats. He would rather go on to find some delicious leaves and ferns. Eating is more his style.

Ankylosaurus advances!!!

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