15 Mighty Spiked Dinosaurs with Impressive Armor

Leave a comment / / Updated on: 4th January 2024

spiked dinosaurs
Robust armor was crucial for our selection of 15 dinosaurs

Thanks to paleontological expeditions and research, we can now envision the world’s most protected creatures—the spiked dinosaurs— that have impressive armor formed by plates, scutes, and spikes!

Not only did they serve as defense mechanisms against dangerous predators, but they were also used for display!

Although specialists couldn’t fully describe some of these notable species and indicate where exactly the spikes were located, dinosaur enthusiasts will still find the discoveries fascinating!

After all, without them, a massive piece of our world’s evolutionary history would be missing!

Gage Beasley's Prehistoric Shirt Collection
Gage Beasley’s Prehistoric Shirt Collection

The 15 Dinosaurs That Make The List

Most (but not all!) spike-adorned dinosaurs are part of the Ornithischia order.

All were herbivores, and besides having uniquely shaped spikes, they were equipped with armor plates aimed to protect them from external threats.

The location, size, shape, and number of the spikes differ in each species.

Talarurus Illustration
Talarurus was well armored but did it make the list? / Warpaintcobra via Istock

Some had only one or two; others might have had more than 20 spikes spread over the body.

In this article, we’ve selected 15 of the most fascinating spiked dinosaurs and shared everything you need to know about their armored bodies!

You’ll soon discover that most had a pretty odd appearance, which is another proof of our world’s prehistoric wildlife diversity!

15. Diabloceratops

Diabloceratops 3D Illustration
Diabloceratops 3D Illustration / Warpaintcobra via Istock
Name MeaningDevil-horned face
EraMesozoicLate Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Ceratopsia
Height2 meters (6.6 feet)
Length4.5 meters (14.7 feet)
Weight1.3 metric tons (1.43 short tons)
LocationUtah, United States

The famous dinosaur from Utah – the Diabloceratops or, as it’s commonly called, the devil-horned face.

Naturally, this terrifying prehistoric creature lives up to its name thanks to the long spikes that protrude from its distinctive frill!

Not only did it have these ferocious spikes, but it likely also had some kind of eye markings on the frill, giving it an even odder appearance! 

Moreover, the Diabloceratops also had two small horns above its eyes.

It had a robust build, a beaked mouth, and likely had shorter forelimbs and a relatively short tail.

However, many of these details haven’t been officially confirmed, as the genus isn’t as well-studied as others.

14. Nodosaurus

Name MeaningKnobbed lizard
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Nodosauridae
Height1.5 meters (4.9 feet)
Length4-6 meters (13.1-19.6 feet)
Weight3.5 tonnes (3.85 short tons)
LocationWyoming, United States

Otherwise known as the knobbed lizard, the Nodosaurus inhabited today’s Wyoming.

More precisely, it was found only in the state’s Frontier Formation.

At first, it was thought to belong to Stegosauria but was later appointed to the Nodosauridae family.

It was a relatively large ornithischian, but it had a short neck and short legs. It also had a narrow head, a long tail, and a pointed snout.

The back was strongly arched.

Its body was covered in dermal plates and probably distinctive spikes arranged on the sides of its body.

The plates were arranged in rows along the body.

13. Euoplocephalus

Euoplocephalus 3D Illustration
Euoplocephalus 3D Illustration / Warpaintcobra via Istock
Name MeaningWell-armed head
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Thyreophora
Height1.7 meters (5.5 feet)
Length5.3 meters (17.3 feet)
Weight2 metric tons (2.2 short tons)

The first fossils belonging to a Euoplocephalus specimen were discovered in 1897, but were officially named only in 1910.

Although this creature wasn’t very tall, it had an unusually flat and wide body supported by four short yet robust legs.

And if that’s not unique enough – what if we told you it also had a beak used to bite off plants?

Furthermore, the Euoplocephalus had bony plates on its body separated by high-ridged oval scutes. It had two bone rings on the neck and a heavy tail club.

The well-armed head might have also possessed some spikes, but their arrangement hasn’t been fully confirmed.

However, some fossilized narrow spikes were associated with the lower arm.

12. Edmontonia

Edmontonia rugosidens
Edmontonia rugosidens / Mariana Ruiz – License
Name MeaningReference to the Edmonton Formation
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Thyreophora
Height2.5 meters (8.2 feet)
Length6.6 meters (21.6 feet)
Weight3 metric tons (3.3 short tons)
LocationNorth America

Paleontological discoveries revealed fossils belonging to specimens from two distinct Edmontonia species – E. longiceps and E. rugosidens.

These armored dinosaurs were heavily built, having bulky, broad bodies.

They were equipped with long, sharp spikes and ridged bony plates on the head and back.

The longest spikes were located on the shoulders – two on each shoulder.

They likely continued in a row to the rear part of the body, being located much lower and curved toward the back of the animal.

These spikes were likely used for social intimidation and protection against predators.

These spikes are believed to have been shorter in Edmontonia longiceps.

11. Miragaia

Miragaia 3D Illustration
Miragaia 3D Illustration / Warpaintcobra via Istock
Name MeaningThe Watchful Rejoicer/Mirage Earth
EraMesozoic – Late Jurassic
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Thyreophora
Height2-2.5 meters (6.5-8.2 feet)
Length6-6.5 meters (19.6-21.3 feet)
Weight2 metric tons (2.2 short tons)

Miragaia of the Late Jurassic lived in what we now call Portugal, between the villages of Miragaia and Sobral.

These long yet lightweight dinosaurs had two rows of bony plates on their necks which were triangular and had a convex outer side.

Their necks were unusually long, consisting of at least 17 vertebrae.

Besides the unique bony plates and long necks, the Miragaia creatures had spike arrangements, although scientists aren’t sure where exactly they were located on their bodies.

Fossil discoveries revealed only one spike that likely belonged to the tail. It was long, narrow, and straight.

10. Huayangosaurus

Huayangosaurus 3D Render
Huayangosaurus 3D Render – CoreyFord via Istock
Name MeaningHuayang lizard
EraMesozoic – Middle Jurassic
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Thyreophora
Height1.3 meters (4.3 feet)
Length4 meters (13.1 feet)
Weight500 kilograms (1,100 lb)

The Huayangosaurus lived on China’s territory 165 million years ago.

It was a quadrupedal herbivore with a relatively small skull, a robust build, a spiked tail, and plate arrangements.

Its tail arrangement was similar to that of its relative, the Stegosaurus. More precisely, it had a double row of vertical plates on its back, which, in fact, looked like spikes.

Besides this, it had four long horizontal spikes on its tail that were used as a defensive weapon. Some sources also mention two large spikes above the hips.

If the Huayongosaurus indeed possessed them, they were probably used as defensive weapons against attacks from above.

9. Hylaeosaurus

Hylaeosaurus: "Forest lizard" Early Cretaceous, Europe
Hylaeosaurus: “Forest lizard” / UnexpectedDinoLesson – License
Name MeaningLizard of the forest
EraMesozoic – Early Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Thyreophora
Length5 meters (16.4 ft)
Weight2 metric tons (2.2 short tons)

Unfortunately, the appearance of the Hylaeosaurus is poorly known, as only a few fossils were discovered.

The holotype specimen consists only of parts of the skull, some vertebrae, both scapulae and coracoids, and several spikes and plates.

That’s why scientists aren’t completely sure if this creature was a nodosaurid or an ankylosaurid.

Luckily, what’s of interest to us today is a certainty – the Hylaeosaurus did have spikes and plates which served as body armor!

On the other hand, it’s unknown how these spikes and plates were arranged.

Some suggest they were arranged in a row on the back.

8. Gastonia

Reconstruction of a Gastonia dinosaur
Reconstruction of a Gastonia / Mariana Ruiz – License
Name MeaningGaston County in North Carolina
EraMesozoic – Early Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Thyreophora
Height1.1 meters (3.6 feet)
Length4.3 meters (14.1 feet)
Weight1.9 tonnes (2 short tons)
LocationNorth America

Gastonia ankylosaurians are closely related to the Polacanthus dinosaurs we mentioned above.

They were relatively small dinosaurs, that is, if we compare them to other prehistoric creatures, because their size was within normal limits for ankylosaurians.

They had a relatively small skull, a long neck, short yet powerful limbs, and a long tail.

Their bodies were covered in osteoderms, and their necks featured several bone rings.

The thorax had several pairs of large flat spikes arranged on each side. They were triangular-shaped.

As Polacanthus, Gastonia likely had a large pelvic shield that might have been surrounded by four pairs of spikes, although not all scientists agree on the latter.

The tail also probably had some horizontal spikes, which might’ve been used to hit predators.

This efficient body armor could be the reason why these creatures were abundant in their ecosystem, as they were well-protected against the Utahraptor, considered the apex predator in their habitat.

7. Chungkingosaurus

Life reconstruction of Chungkingosaurus
Reconstruction of Chungkingosaurus / Connor Ashbridge – License
Name MeaningChongqing lizard
EraMesozoic – Late Jurassic
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Thyreophora
Height1.3 meters (4.3 feet)
Length5 meters (16.4 feet)
Weight1,500kg (3307lbs)

If you’re a Jurassic World fan, you’re probably already acquainted with the Chungkingosaurus, a dinosaur in the Jurassic World Evolution series.

In reality, this spiked-adorned dinosaur lived in China approximately 160 million years ago.

Although not as large as others on our list, the Chongqing lizard had remarkable body armor!

It had two rows of paired plates and spikes on its back.

It likely had two pairs of tail spikes, just as the skeleton you can admire in the Chongqing Municipal Museum depicts it.

Supposedly, the tail spikes were arranged as a thagomizer, suggesting they might have been used against predators.

Unfortunately, scientists couldn’t agree on an exact number of spikes.

The skeleton model found at the museum shows the creature as having fourteen pairs of spikes; whether this was indeed true remains a mystery.

6. Dacentrurus

Life reconstruction of Dacentrurus
Life reconstruction of Dacentrurus / Connor Ashbridge – License
Name MeaningTail full of points
EraMesozoic – Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Thyreophora
Height2.3 meters (7.5 feet)
Length8-9 meters (26.2-29.5 feet)
Weight5 metric tons (5.5 short tons)

The Dacentrurus was first discovered in 1874 in Wiltshire, a historic county in South West England.

Over the years, paleontologists recovered other fossils from the genus, which revealed that it was Europe’s best-known stegosaurian.

It was widely distributed on the continent, having been found in England, Portugal, France, and Spain.

Specialists suggest this creature had two rows of small plates on its neck.

Besides this, it featured two rows of spikes on its tail, which might’ve been part of a thagomizer arrangement, meaning it was probably used as a defense mechanism against predators.

The tail spike of the holotype specimen was very sharp.

5. Polacanthus

Polacanthus 3D Illustration
Polacanthus 3D Illustration / Warpaintcobra via Istock
Name MeaningMultiple spines
EraMesozoic – Early Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Thyreophora
Height1.2 meters (3.9 feet)
Length5 meters (16.4 feet)
Weight2 tonnes (2.2 short tons)

Although the Polacanthus reached 5 meters (16.4 feet) in length, it was as tall as a dog.

Still, it definitely deserves a spot on our list because its armored body was covered in spikes!

But the spikes aren’t the only interesting features of its body!

First, scientists believe it had a fused sheet of dermal bone covering its hips that functioned as a pelvic shield.

The shield of the holotype specimen measures 90 centimeters (35.4 inches) long and 108 centimeters (42.5 inches) wide.

Then, some paleontologists suggested that it had two rows of spikes on the neck, five sets of spikes on the front body, and 22 pairs of shorter spikes on the tails.

As small as it might be, the Polacanthus foxii is at the top in terms of the number of spikes!

4. Styracosaurus

Styracosaurus 3D Render
Styracosaurus 3D Render / CoreyFord via Istock
Name MeaningSpiked lizard
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Ceratopsia
Height1.8 meters (5.9 feet)
Length5-5.5 meters (16.4-18 feet)
Weight1.8–2.7 metric tons (2.0–3.0 short tons)
LocationNorth America

Also known as the spiked lizard, the Styracosaurus inhabited Earth between 75.5 and 74.5 million years ago.

Fossils belonging to these herbivorous ceratopsians were found in North America.

The most distinctive characteristics of these creatures are the massive skulls equipped with a straight nose horn and a neck frill decorated with large spikes.

No wonder why the genus has been nicknamed the spiked lizard!

Besides the horn and the spikes, some individuals might’ve had hook-like projections and knobs on their frills.

Although it’s considered that the Styracosaurus had only four spikes, some individuals had a third spike pair.

Even though it has been historically believed that the horn, the neck frill, and the spikes were used in combat, this theory is largely but not fully disapproved of.

They were probably used in sexual display and also played a role in regulating body temperature, resembling elephant ears in this aspect.

3. Pachycephalosaurus

Pachycephalosaurus 3D Rendering
Pachycephalosaurus 3D Rendering / leonello via Istock
Name MeaningThick-headed lizard
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Pachycephalosauria
Height1.5 meters (4.9 feet)
Length4.5 meters (14.7 feet)
Weight370–450 kilograms (816–992 lb)
LocationNorth America

The Pachycephalosaurus belongs to the territory we now call North America.

Fossils belonging to this genus were recovered from Alberta, Wyoming, Montana, and South Dakota.

It was a bipedal herbivore with a relatively short neck, short forelimbs, long hind limbs, and a bulky build.

Although the creature seems to be a classic dinosaur, there’s something unique about it – the thick-headed lizard had a large, bony dome on its skull, which protected its brain.

This dome was, in turn, protected by bony knobs and bony spikes growing upward from the snout.

These spikes were likely larger in juveniles and appeared smaller in adults as their domes probably became larger as they matured.

Some might have probably even lost their spikes over the years.

2. Kentrosaurus

Kentrosaurus 3D Illustration
Kentrosaurus 3D Illustration / Warpaintcobra via Istock
Name MeaningPrickle lizard
EraMesozoic – Late Jurassic
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Thyreophora
Height1.5-1.7 meters (4.9-5.5feet)
Length4-4.5 meters (13-14.7 feet)
Weight700-1,600 kg (1,543-3,527 lb)

The Kentrosaurus is a close relative of the Stegosaurus, and it was even its contemporary, having roamed the Earth 152 million years ago.

However, they never crossed paths, as the Kentrosaurus lived in today’s Tanzania.

As its relative, the prickle lizard was equipped with an armored body consisting of an array of plates and spikes.

They were arranged along the dinosaur’s body, all the way from its neck to its tail, likely running on both sides of the body’s midline.

The exact position of these spikes is unknown, but scientists suggest they were probably arranged in pairs.

They were also unusually elongated and probably had various shapes and sizes depending on their location on the body.

Some specialists argue they were shorter and flatter at the front, becoming longer and more pointed toward the dinosaur’s rear part.

The Kentrosaurus might have also had a distinctive spike on its shoulder, as the shape of that spike is slightly different than the other, being strongly asymmetrical and having an unusually broad base.

These spikes served as excellent combat weapons, and the Kentrosaurus could use them to defend itself from the fiercest predators.

However, compared to the spikes of our number 1, those belonging to the Kentrosaurus were thinner and thus more susceptible to bending.

1. Stegosaurus

Stegosaurus 3D illustration
Stegosaurus 3D illustration / Warpaintcobra via Istock
Name MeaningSte-go-sore-us
EraMesozoic – Late Jurassic
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Thyreophora
HeightUp to 3.5 meters (11.4 feet)
Length6.5-7.5 meters (21.3-24.6 feet)
Weight3.5-5.3 metric tons (3.8-5.8 short tons)
LocationUnited States, Portugal

The famous Stegosaurus walked the territory of Portugal and the United States approximately 155-145 million years ago.

Fossils belonging to more than 80 specimens led to the description of three distinct species in the genus: S. stenops, S. ungulatus, and S. sulcatus.

These quadrupedal herbivores are now renowned for their distinctive broad plates and tail spikes, which were and still are the subject of many debates among specialists.

The dermal plates of this creature were modified osteoderms similar to those we can observe in extant crocodiles.

As such, these plates grew from the skin, not from the skeleton.

Since the type specimen was discovered in the vicinity of eight fossilized spikes, paleontologists argued that these creatures might have had four pairs of tail spikes.

However, other specialists haven’t fully supported this, arguing it had only two pairs.

Moreover, further studies related to the type specimen suggest that one of the spikes might have come from either the shoulder or the hip; the species might have had spikes on other parts of its body besides the tail.

Either way, the tail spikes were likely used in combat and for display.


Undoubtedly, all the species we discussed today are proof of nature’s ingeniosity in terms of the gifts it makes to wildlife creatures!

While the elements of their body armor seem fascinating to us today, they were the key to these dinosaurs’ survival!

Thanks to paleontological research, we can now understand their behavior and lifestyle better!

That’s why we encourage you to share your favorite dinosaur with us!

Or, even better, do you know other spiked dinosaurs we haven’t added to our list?


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