Fun Polacanthus Facts For Kids

Aashita Dhingra
Oct 20, 2022 By Aashita Dhingra
Originally Published on Sep 28, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Informative and interesting Polacanthus facts that kids will love.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.0 Min

The Polacanthus is a plant-eating dinosaur that lived in the Early Cretaceous period, as per the natural history records. It is not a well-known animal as only a few remains are left on Earth. Its fossils or specimens have been identified along the coast where the sea tides have decayed their bones. Fossils found have been placed at a museum in England. The classification of Polacanthus is as follows: Dinosauria, Ornithischia, Genasauria, Thyreophora, Ankylosauromorpha, and Ankylosauria. The first species was found by William Fox in the Isle of Wight. Dr. William T. Blows named this dinosaur Polacanthus rudgwickensis in 1996, whereas Hulke named it P. foxii.

The creature was an herbivore, and its diet usually consisted of plant material. The Polacanthus skeleton had spiky armor, which provided it protection from predators. The skeleton consists of the femur, humerus, tibia, scapula, and vertebra. The Polacanthus skull and head are poorly known. The hylaeosaurus and Polacanthus are almost alike.

To learn more about other dinosaur species, you can also visit Prosaurolophus and Incisivosaurus facts pages.

Polacanthus Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce 'Polacanthus'?

The Polacanthus pronunciation is 'po-la-can-thas.'

What type of dinosaur was a Polacanthus?

The genus Polacanthus was a type of dinosaur. They were a kind of Nodosauridae that lived in the Early Cretaceous period, about 130-125 million years ago, what is now known as Europe. The first species of the genus was discovered in the Isle of Wight, a small distance east of Barnes Chine in England, by William Fox in 1965. The specimen was only a partial body of the dinosaur. After some time, a second fossil of the species of Polacanthus was found by Dr. W. T. Blows in 1979. It was the very first specimen with anterior armor and neck vertebrae.

In which geological period did the Polacanthus roam the Earth?

Polacanthus ankylosaurus was an armored dinosaur that lived in the Early Cretaceous period, around 130-125 million years ago. The Cretaceous era was the third and last stage of the Mesozoic period after the Triassic and Jurassic eras. Until the Mesozoic period, the continents that exist now were fused with each other into a supercontinent called the Pangaea continent. The first specimen (a partial body) was uncovered on the Isle of Wight by William Fox in 1965. It is now placed at a museum of Sussex.

When did the Polacanthus become extinct?

According to natural history, during the Cretaceous period, Pangaea split apart and spread around the surface of the Earth. This transition gradually cooled the Earth’s climate, and the continents and oceans as we know them today began to take shape. This period of dinosaur Polacanthus age ended with the mass extinction of armored dinosaurs, including the species Polacanthus foxii, after an asteroid hit the Earth.

Where did a Polacanthus live?

Collecta Polacanthus survived in the Lower Cretaceous period, what we know known as Europe, especially the region of modern England now identified as the Isle of Wight.

What was a Polacanthus's habitat?

The first specimen was discovered in a bed of blue clay, which appears near the center of the cliff, a small distance east of Barnes Chine, according to Hulke, 1881. However, it was discovered in the Isle of Wight in 1865. Sadly, the remains of the Polacanthus ankylosaur have so far been rather scattered. Only a portion of its armor has been well preserved. More intact specimens of the closest relatives of type species P. foxii such as Gastonia and Gargoyleosaurus gave scientists some ideas on how the ankylosaur must have looked like. The row of spikes on its osteoderms probably supported the ankylosaur to protect itself from predators. Polacanthus remains are not the only Ankylosaurus unearthed in Wealden because a related Hylaeosaurus is also known in Sussex.

Who did a Polacanthus live with?

Polacanthus would have been lived with many other ankylosaurian species in the Isle of Wight and the British county of Sussex, including Horshamosaurus. Polacanthus species would have preferred to live alone or in pairs or in groups of about three dinosaurs.

How long did a Polacanthus live?

The life span of this ankylosaurian animal is unknown.

How did they reproduce?

Very little is known regarding the reproduction of the Polacanthus dinosaurs. It has been discovered that they were egg-laying animals. However, details about their reproduction and incubation process have not been identified yet.

Polacanthus Fun Facts

What did a Polacanthus look like?

The Polacanthus extinct dinosaur was one of the armored dinosaurs with four legs, rows of spikes along the entire length of the back, and a big pony plate over the hips to protect itself from predators. As an ankylosaur, it had a developed brain and may have been considerably alert and mobile. Fossils of this dinosaur suggest that this was a medium-sized ankylosauria animal with a length of about 196.85 in (500 cm) and weight of around 2 tons (1814.37 kg), as estimated by Gregory Paul. Alternatively, Thomas Holtz estimated the size to be nearly 13 ft (4 m) and the weight from 500-1,000 lb (226.79-453.59 kg). As an ankylosaur, the hindlimbs were relatively long. In 2011, Barrett E.A. pointed out two possible unique features, autapomorphies: the bottom of the neural tube is deeply split by a channel with a V-shaped transverse profile; the tail spikes have a triangular base and a narrow tip. However, little is known about the skull of Polacanthus.

The palaeontological association has been working to restore features of armor description. Hulke knows that the Polacanthus had a massive sacral shield with a fused dermal bone at its hips which may not be connected to the bone and enhanced with tubercles. This characteristic is shared with other Polacanthus dinosaurs, including Gastonia and Mymoorapelta. With the positive template, the shield is nearly 42.51 in (108 cm) wide and 35.43 in (90 cm) long. The body description, Polacanthus, has been characterized by some special features, such as four rows of large horizontal keel osteoderms on each side, enclosed by smaller ossicles. The description of the hylaeosaurus animal also consists of a tibia, vertebra, and scutes. In Polacanthus foxii, the vertebra and scutes are sometimes entirely fused to make flat armor plates. Hulke believed that there were two rows of osteoderms on both sides of the tail. The spikes found with the fossil indicate that they must be present on the sides of the back. However, Nopcsa had a different theory. He added that each row would have contained at least about five spikes as seven spikes had been conserved with the fossil. Nopcsa also said each spike row on the tail would have consisted of 22 shorter spikes. In 1987, Blows agreed with Nopcsa and distinguished the armor spikes into three types- Type A, B, and C. Henley Hoobs and his father found a footprint on the Isle of Wight in 2013.

The Polacanthus had strong spikes on their back.

How many bones did a Polacanthus have?

The exact number of bones in the ankylosaurian dinosaur is currently unknown. The sacrum itself is made up of five dorsal sacrums, four sacral, and one or two sacrocaudal vertebrae. The transverse process of the caudal vertebrae existed up to the distal third of the tail, and the chevron pattern did not merge with the center of the caudal vertebra. The humerus has a big deltopectoral ridge that stretches to the middle of the shaft. The femur has a differentiated lesser trochanter and a fourth trochanter located at the mid-length of the shaft. The tibia in the animal is 37% smaller than the femur. The large rectangular flat dermal shield enveloping the ilium and sacrum is very prominent. The large flat plates with high spines extend laterally from the end of the sacral shield. There are rows of laterally flat, hollow caudal plates on both sides, and the distal caudal end is a bone block composed of oval dermal bone, lined with a fused core of Polacanthus vertebra and ventral ossified tendons. The bottom of the bone skin shows fibrous bone stripes, which are the most common material identified on the Isle of Wight. Polacanthus is not the only Ankylosaurus found in Wealden because a similar Hylaeosaurus has also been found in England. However, these two can be differentiated from each other by the scapula and coracoid processes because they are solidified in Polacanthus.

How did they communicate?

The communication among Polacanthus dinosaurs has not been identified.

How big was a Polacanthus?

The Polacanthus size was about 196.85 in (500 cm) long, with a height of 7 ft (2.13 m), which is around 30 times larger than the Ganges river dolphin.

How fast could a Polacanthus move?

The running speed of the Polacanthus is estimated to be similar to that of Javan rhinoceros.

How much did a Polacanthus weigh?

The weight of the Polacanthus dinosaur is about 2 tons (1814.37 kg), which is 20 times bigger than a saltwater crocodile.

What were the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for male and female dinosaurs in the Polacanthus species.

What would you call a baby Polacanthus?

The young of a Polacanthus is known as a baby or hatchling.

What did they eat?

Polacanthus were herbivores that forage for food on the ground. The Polacanthus diet mainly consisted of conifers.

How aggressive were they?

No information has been available regarding the aggressiveness of the Polacanthus species.

Did you know...

The Polacanthus name meaning is 'many spines'.

How did Polacanthus' protect themselves?

There was a floating shield on their backs, which was not connected to any bones below. This was good armor that prevented predators from biting other dinosaurs. Predators also found it difficult to bite their armor, so they were well protected. In addition, they had a row of spikes on their tails, but they were one of the first armored dinosaurs that evolved without clubs.

In what taxon is Polacanthus?

The classification of Polacanthus species is as follows: Dinosauria, Ornithischia, Genasauria, Thyreophora, Ankylosauromorpha, and Ankylosauria.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Puertasaurus facts and Tupuxuara facts for kids.

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

Main image by FunkMonk (Michael B. H.), hip armor by Franz Nopcsa von Felso-Szilvas

Second image by Henry Burrows

Polacanthus Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Plant materials

what Type of Animal were they?

Herbivore

Average Litter Size?

10-20 eggs

What Did They Look Like?

Spiky armor

How Much Did They Weigh?

2 ton (1814 kg)

Skin Type

Spikes

How Long Were They?

196.85 in (500 cm)

How Tall Were They?

7 ft (2 m)

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Reptilia

Genus

Polacanthus

Family

Nodosauridae

Scientific Name

Polacanthus foxii

What Were Their Main Threats?

Predators

What Habitat Did They Live In?

Early Cretaceous

Where Did They Live?

Isle of Wight (Europe)
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Written by Aashita Dhingra

Bachelors in Business Administration

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Aashita DhingraBachelors in Business Administration

Based in Lucknow, India, Aashita is a skilled content creator with experience crafting study guides for high school-aged kids. Her education includes a degree in Business Administration from St. Mary's Convent Inter College, which she leverages to bring a unique perspective to her work. Aashita's passion for writing and education is evident in her ability to craft engaging content.

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