Photos: This Plant-Eating Dinosaur Had Spikes, Armor and Camouflage

Colorful critter

nodosaur fossil camouflage

(Image credit: Julius T. Csotonyi/Copyright Royal Tyrrell Museum)

The 110-million-year-old dinosaur, a nodosaur — a relative of the ankylosaur — was covered in spiky, bony plates known as osteoderms, but it had another trick to protect itself from predators: camouflage.

A geochemical analysis of a black film covering the amazing, statue-like nodosaur specimen, a newly named genus and species dubbed Borealopelta markmitchelli, revealed that the beast was brownish-red in color.

Intriguingly, the nodosaur was darker on its back than its belly, suggesting it had countershading, a type of camouflage that many animals still use today. [ Read the Full Story on the Nodosaur Dinosaur's Discovery and Camouflage]

Nodosaur sideview

nodosaur side

(Image credit: Copyright Royal Tyrrell Museum)

A side view of the stupendously spiky nodosaur fossil.

Nodosaur head

Nodosaur head

(Image credit: Copyright Royal Tyrrell Museum)

The nodosaur's fossilized head.

Nodosaur spikes

nodosaur spikes

(Image credit: Copyright Royal Tyrrell Museum)

The herbivorous nodosaur was covered with protective, bony spikes.

Prep time

nodosaur fossil camouflage

(Image credit: Copyright Royal Tyrrell Museum)

Mark Mitchell chisels off the surrounding rock from the nodosaur fossil.

Bird's-eye view

nodosaur fossil camouflage

(Image credit: Copyright Royal Tyrrell Museum)

A bird's-eye view of the nodosaur's back.

Long dino

nodosaur fossil camouflage

(Image credit: Copyright Royal Tyrrell Museum)

During its lifetime 110 million years ago, the nodosaur measured 18 feet (5.5 meters) long.

Head and neck

nodosaur fossil camouflage

(Image credit: Copyright Royal Tyrrell Museum)

The geochemical analysis found that the nodosaur had more pigment on its back, including on its head and neck, than on its underbelly.

Left side

nodosaur fossil camouflage

(Image credit: Copyright Royal Tyrrell Museum)

The left side of the nodosaur's head. Notice the black film that covers the fossil. It contains organic remnants of the dinosaur's skin and pigment.

Nodosaur imagined

nodosaur illustration

(Image credit: Robert Nicholls/Copyright Royal Tyrrell Museum)

The nodosaur Borealopelta markmitchelli had armor, spikes and camouflage, but it likely still fell prey to larger beasts, such as the tyrannosaur Acrocanthosaurus.

Sacral skin

nodosaur fossil camouflage

(Image credit: Copyright Royal Tyrrell Museum)

Fossilized skin and osteoderms from the nodosaur's lower back. The dark skin impressions are the remains of the reddish-brown melanin, known as pheomelanin.