The Minmi Dinosaur

  • Name: Minmi (after Minmi Crossing in Australia); pronounced MIN-mee
  • Habitat: Woodlands of Australia
  • Historical Period: Middle Cretaceous (100 million years ago)
  • Size and Weight: About 10 feet long and 500-1,000 pounds
  • Diet: Plants
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Unusually small brain; primitive armor on back and belly

About Minmi

Minmi was an unusually small, and unusually primitive, ankylosaur (armored dinosaur) from middle Cretaceous Australia. This plant-eater's armor was rudimentary compared to that of later, more famous genera like Ankylosaurus and Euoplocephalus, consisting of horizontal bony plates running along the sides of its backbone, a noticeable thickening on its belly, and spiky protrusions at the end of its long tail. Minmi also had an unusually small, narrow head, which has led some paleontologists to speculate that its encephalization quotient (the comparative size of its brain to the rest of its body) was lower than that of other dinosaurs of its time--and considering how stupid the average ankylosaur was, that's not much of a compliment. (Needless to say, the dinosaur Minmi shouldn't be confused with the Japanese-born, Caribbean-style singer Minmi, or even Mini-Me from the Austin Powers movies, who are both presumably much more intelligent!)

Until recently, Minmi was the only known ankylosaur from Australia. That all changed at the end of 2015 when a team from the University of Queensland re-examined a supposed second Minmi fossil specimen (discovered in 1989) and determined that it actually belonged to an entirely new ankylosaur genus, which they dubbed Kunbarrasaurus, Aboriginal and Greek for "shield lizard." Kunbarrasaurus appears to be one of the earliest known ankylosaurs, dating to the same middle Cretaceous time frame as Minmi, and given its relatively light coating of armor, it seems to have only recently evolved from the "last common ancestor" of both stegosaurs and ankylosaurs. Its closest relative was the western European Scelidosaurus, a clue to the different arrangement of the earth's continents during the early Mesozoic Era.

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Strauss, Bob. "The Minmi Dinosaur." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Strauss, Bob. (2021, February 16). The Minmi Dinosaur. Retrieved from Strauss, Bob. "The Minmi Dinosaur." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).