Fun Ziapelta Facts For Kids

Mellisa Nair
Jan 31, 2023 By Mellisa Nair
Originally Published on Sep 27, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Sonali Rawat
Read interesting Ziapelta facts including details about its specimens, complete skull, and median nasal caputegulum.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.3 Min

Want to learn some cool and interesting facts about a new Ankylosaurid dinosaur (armored dinosaur) that lived in the Upper Cretaceous‭ ‬of New Mexico, and the Upper Cretaceous of Western North America? This article is for you!

'New Mexico and Alberta are known for being the homeland of several Ankylosaur dinosaurs throughout the world's history', according to a team of paleontologists from the University of Alberta. Well, that was a true statement given that this beautiful creature called Ziapelta lived in New Mexico! It is an extinct genus of Ankylosaurid dinosaurs and is known for the holotype specimen recovered from the Hunter Wash and De-na-zin members of the Kirtland Formation, which is the Upper Cretaceous of New Mexico. Dr. Victoria Arbour, an expert on dinosaurs and her colleagues named this species in 2014. It is represented by the holotype skull as well as the first cervical half ring, assorted other osteoderms, and the first cervical half ring. Several specimens have been described so far, however, they are all fragments of its frontal side. It was a heavy-bodied dinosaur, whose jaws were filled with tiny leaf-shaped teeth, its body was covered with osteoderms or armor plates, and some speculate it had a large and heavy club at the end of its tail, however, fossils of its tail club have not yet been discovered to confirm this theory, the caputegulum, or its middle bone plate was large, prominent and roughly triangular. The genus has great religious importance to the Zia people of New Mexico. Another interesting thing to note is that the small shield symbol on the state flag of New Mexico is actually the osteoderms found on all Ankylosaurids.

Learn about some other pre-historic creatures from our Spiclypeus facts and Kryptodrakon facts pages.

Ziapelta Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce 'Ziapelta'?

The word is pronounced as 'ze-ah-pel-tah'. This dinosaur was described by V.‭ ‬M.‭ ‬Arbour,‭ ‬Robert. ‬M.‭ ‬Sullivan,‭ and team. The one species in this genus is Z. sanjuanensis, which is named after San Juan County and the San Juan basin where its fossils were found.

What type of dinosaur was a Ziapelta?

Ziapelta sanjuanensis is a member of the Ankylosauridae family and is closely related to Nodocephalosaurus.

In which geological period did the Ziapelta roam the earth?

This dinosaur lived during the Cretaceous era, approximately 75 to 76 million years ago.

When did the Ziapelta become extinct?

These dinosaurs went extinct during the K-T mass extinction nearly 65 million years ago.

Where did a Ziapelta live?

Fossils including its skull, partial neck rings, and other osteoderms were recovered from the San Juan Basin in the states of New Mexico and above the Farmington member (a division of the Kirtland Formation) and the lower region called the De-na-zin member, in North America, also known the Upper Cretaceous of Western North America.

What was a Ziapelta' habitat?

This dinosaur lived near regions that provided it with plenty of food and water i.e. forests, riversides, floodplains, and swamps. Theories suggest that it shared the same ecosystem with Nodocephalosaurus.

Who did a Ziapelta live with?

The social life and foraging behavior of this dinosaur is unknown.

How long did a Ziapelta live?

The life span of this dinosaur is unknown.

How did they reproduce?

They reproduced via sexual reproduction. Males would deposit their sperm inside females, who would later lay fertilized eggs containing developing dinosaur embryos. They built nests by digging burrows in the soil and laid giant eggs which had a hard layered shell. All the eggs were usually amniotic, meaning the fetus was covered by a membrane which helped in its protection as well as supplying oxygen and other nutrients to the fetus.

Ziapelta Fun Facts

What did a Ziapelta look like?

Robert Sullivan, the discoverer of this species compared it to other dinosaurs and stated that he knew immediately that this was new species that was closely related to the Ankylosaurs found in Alberta. Even though Ziapelta sanjuanensis is compared to other North American Ankylosaurids like Ankylosaurs, Anodontosaurus, and Euoplocephalus, it can be separated from them as it has a large skull, tall spikes that adorn the cervical half ring, a peculiar bone structure near its neck, it has a longitudinal groove near the ventral surface (areas near its chest, abdomen, shins, palms, and soles) which is absent among Anodontosaurus and Euoplocephalus. Its skull is one-of-a-kind and stands out among the other known Ankylosaurs. The back of its skull is covered with thick horns that curve downwards. Dr. Victoria Arbour from the University of Alberta described its horns as 'squamosal thick horns' and its median nasal caputegulae as 'huge and triangular', rather than the common hexagonal caputegulae observed in the other Ankylosaur dinosaur species.

Facts about a new Ankylosaurid dinosaur named Ziapelta sanjuanensis.
We've been unable to source an image of Ziapelta and have used an image of Ankylosaur instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of Ziapelta, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at

How many bones did a Ziapelta have?

The recovered fossil remains included a nearly-complete skull, two spiky half-circles of neck armor, and other fragments. Now, we know that sounds underwhelming, but these bones and the large triangular scale on the snout scientifically referred to as the median nasal caputegulum or the prefrontal caputegulum made identifying this dinosaur easy.

How did they communicate?

Communication among Ziapelta sanjuanensis and other Ankylosaur ‬dinosaurs that roamed the Earth during the Late Cretaceous era is still a mystery but many scientists over the past decades have come up with several theories that suggest possible ways these animals communicated, some put forth the theory of vocalizations and that these ferocious beasts engaged in dialogue by producing calls, hoots, cracking sounds, body movements, and symbolic love calls during the mating season.

How big was a Ziapelta?

An adult dinosaur of this species grew up to 15-20 ft (4.6-6.1 m) in length.

How fast could a Ziapelta move?

The speed rate of this dinosaur is unknown. But, researchers speculate that it was a slow-moving animal similar to other Ankylosaurs, thanks to its squatted stance and extensive body armor.

How much did a Ziapelta weigh?

Similar to several other Ankylosaurs, this dinosaur weighed around 4,409.2 lb (2,000 kg).

What were the male and female names of the species?

Female dinosaurs are called saura, whereas the males are called saurus.

What would you call a baby Ziapelta?

Young babies of these dinosaurs can be referred to as hatchlings.

What did they eat?

Since they were herbivores their diet mainly consisted of plants and fruits.

How aggressive were they?

They weren't necessarily aggressive but would go all out while defending themselves!

Did you know...

North American Ankylosaurids from the Late Cretaceous have often been clubbed with Asian Ankylosaur species. Paleontologists V. Arbour and Currie stated that the population of North American Ankylosaurids was wiped out during the Albian or Cenomanian stage of the Middle Cretaceous.

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (where the remains of this dinosaur are on display) is a natural history and science museum located in New Mexico, near Old Town Albuquerque.

How did the Ziapelta get its name?

Robert Michael Sullivan, a vertebrate paleontologist from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science and the State Museum of Pennsylvania led an expedition to explore and study the Kirtland Formation. Victoria Arbour, an expert on Ankylosaur dinosaurs from the University of Alberta, joined Sullivan and his team of researchers. Later in 2011, they discovered the fossil remains of Z. sanjuanensis, also known as San Juan County's sun shield.

What protected the Ziapelta?

The body of a Ziapelta dinosaur was protected by osteoderms, which are the scutes of bone present underneath its skin.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other creatures from our Stellasaurus facts, or Eolambia facts for kids pages.

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

*We've been unable to source an image of Ziapelta and have used an image of Ankylosaur instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of Ziapelta, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at

Ziapelta Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Plants, fruits, leaves

what Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


What Did They Look Like?

Brown, red

How Much Did They Weigh?

4,409.2 lb (2,000 kg)

Skin Type

Bony spikes

How Long Were They?

15-20 ft (4.6-6.1 m)

How Tall Were They?










Scientific Name

Ziapelta sanjuanensis

What Were Their Main Threats?

Natural disasters

What Habitat Did They Live In?

Forests, riversides

Where Did They Live?

Kirtland Formation, New Mexico; North America
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Written by Mellisa Nair

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics and English Literature

Mellisa Nair picture

Mellisa NairBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics and English Literature

Specializing in the creation of SEO-friendly content, Mellisa brings enthusiasm and expertise to our team. Her work in digital marketing and social media is complemented by her academic background in economics and English literature, as she holds a Bachelor's degree in these subjects from Wilson College Chowpatty, Mumbai. Mellisa's experience working with clients from various industries, including retail, education, and technology, reflects her ability to adapt her skills to different contexts and audiences.

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