Fun Sauropelta Facts For Kids

Oluwatosin Michael
Oct 20, 2022 By Oluwatosin Michael
Originally Published on Sep 20, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Check out these Sauropelta facts and learn more about this amazing dinosaur!
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.7 Min

The Sauropelta, meaning lizard with shield, is a genus of nodosaurid dinosaurs that were quite common in the Early Cretaceous period. Nodosaurids are a part of a larger group called ankylosaurs, most of which had heavy clubs at the end of their tails.

However, nodosaurids like the Sauropelta did not have clubs at the end of their long tails like other ankylosaurs.

The Sauropelta used to be one of the scariest looking herbivorous dinosaurs because of its bony armor, large spines on its neck, and rows of large, bony studs on its upper body.

Its skull was flat and thick, and the skin on its head was covered with tightly fused bony plates. This armor would have made it very difficult for carnivore predators to attack the Sauropelta's most vulnerable areas on its body, such as its neck and back.

The Sauropelta also has a curved beak rather than a wide muzzle.

This meant that this dinosaur would selectively browse on its choice of plant material for feeding, instead of grazing on all types of plant material that were available. The Sauropelta is estimated to have existed 118-110 million years ago.

Only one species, Sauropelta edwardsorum, has been found from this Genus but it is highly likely that other species existed.If you want to read about other amazing dinosaurs, check out our Austroraptor and Ichthyovenator pages.

Sauropelta Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce 'Sauropelta'?

The Sauropelta is pronounced as /ˌsɔːroʊˈpɛltə/, and its phonetical pronunciation is sore-oh-pelt-ah.

What type of dinosaur was a Sauropelta?

A Sauropelta was a type of theropod, more specifically, a nodosaurid dinosaur that belongs to the group of ankylosaurs. Ankylosaurs are herbivorous and walk on four limbs. A dinosaur belonging to this group usually has some form of armor on its body.

In which geological period did the Sauropelta roam the earth?

The Sauropelta were found on earth in the Early Cretaceous period, which was roughly 118-110 million years ago.

When did the Sauropelta become extinct?

Almost all the remains found of the Sauropelta have been dated back to around 108.5 million years ago. Most nodosaurids, including the Sauropelta, are estimated to have gone extinct during the Maastrichtian stage of the Late Cretaceous period, just before the Cretaceous Paleogene extinction event, which erased three quarters of plant and animals species on Earth.

Where did a Sauropelta live?

The fossilized remains of the Sauropelta have been recovered from a section of the Cloverly Formation in modern day U.S. states of Wyoming, Montana, and Utah.

What was a Sauropelta's habitat?

The Cloverly Formation, where these dinosaurs were found, was made up of wetlands and floodplains. These areas consisted of rivers that drained into the sea and carried sediments from the mountains. The plains were covered with forests of coniferous trees, on which most herbivorous dinosaurs would have fed.

Who did a Sauropelta live with?

The social structure of these dinosaurs is unknown but it is likely that they would have coexisted with other herbivorous dinosaurs of the time such as the large Tenontosauras and the small sized Zephyrosauras.

How long did a Sauropelta live?

The exact lifespan of a Sauropelta is not known. However, it is estimated to have lived for a relatively short while on Earth.

How did they reproduce?

There is not much information available about how these dinosaurs reproduced. They are known to have laid eggs. The spines on the neck of a male Sauropelta, along with its shield and the bony plates on its long tail, could have been used to impress the females.

Sauropelta Fun Facts

What did a Sauropelta look like?

Like most nodosaurids, the Sauropelta also had a shield over its hips that was formed by tightly interlocked plates. This dinosaur had large spines emerging from its neck.

The spines in the upper row were larger and point backward, while those in the lower row were slightly smaller and pointed towards the sides.

Its back and hips were covered with rows of small bony studs. Along the sides of its body and tail, there were small sharp edged plates that would help the dinosaur in defending itself in an attack by swinging its tail at the attackers.

The tail was usually half the body length of the dinosaur, and its front legs were shorter than its hind legs, which enabled it to easily feed on plant material.

The roof of the skull was unusually flat, and the skin on the skull was covered with bony plates. Its teeth were small and leaf shaped to facilitate its selective feeding.

The Sauropelta had huge spines on its neck and rows of bony studs over its back.

How many bones did a Sauropelta have?

The exact number of bones in the body of a Sauropelta has not been quantified, but its tail is said to have had more than 50 vertebrae alone!

How did they communicate?

It is unclear whether these dinosaurs would have been able to communicate with each other.

How big was a Sauropelta?

The Sauropelta is believed to have been 204-300 in (5.2-7.6 m) long. The tail of this dinosaur made up half of its body length.

How fast could a Sauropelta move?

The precise speed of the Sauropelta cannot be determined but there is evidence that these dinosaurs would have ran at a decent jog.

How much did a Sauropelta weigh?

The average body weight of a Sauropelta has been determined at 3,300 lb (1,500 kg). Their weight would have been about 70 times less than the heaviest dinosaur, the Argentinosaurus.

What were the male and female names of the species?

There are no sex specific names for the male and female Sauropelta.

What would you call a baby Sauropelta?

A baby Sauropelta, like most dinosaurs, could have been called a hatchling when it hatched out of its egg.

What did they eat?

The Sauropelta was a herbivorous dinosaur and thus, its diet consisted of plant material like coniferous trees and cycads.

A prominent predator of the Sauropelta in the Early Cretaceous would have been a carnivorous dinosaur called Deinonychus. However, it is assumed that these would not have been able to harm the Sauropelta much because of the neck spines.

How aggressive were they?

This dinosaur would not have been very aggressive. Although it had large spines on its neck and sharp plates on its tail, these features are thought to have been only used for defense, not offense.

Did you know...

The huge spines on the neck of this dinosaur could have been able to deceive its predators into thinking that the Sauropelta was much bigger and could attack them. Thus, sheer intimidation could also have protected these dinosaurs from being eaten up by predators!

Who named the Sauropelta?

Though a partial specimen of the Sauropelta was discovered in the '30s, it wasn't until decades later that this dinosaur got its name. This name, meaning lizard with a shield, was given to it by John Ostrom of Yale University in 1970.

Some of the original specimens are currently on display in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Where was the Sauropelta first found?

The Sauropelta's first specimens, a partial skeleton, were collected from the Little Sheep Mudstone section of the Cloverly Formation in Montana and Wyoming in the 1930s.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! To know more about other dinosaurs, check out our Heterodontosaurus facts or Zigongosaurus facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Sauropelta coloring pages.

Main image by Sphenaphinae and second image by Emily Willoughby.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Oluwatosin Michael

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

Oluwatosin Michael picture

Oluwatosin MichaelBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

With a Bachelor's in Microbiology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Oluwatosin has honed his skills as an SEO content writer, editor, and growth manager. He has written articles, conducted extensive research, and optimized content for search engines. His expertise extends to leading link-building efforts and revising onboarding strategies. 

Read full bio >