A creepy, crawly denizen of North America’s cold mountain waters is the relic hellbender. Reaching upwards of 70 cm and 2 kilos, it’s only rivaled by river monsters known as the Japanese and Chinese giant salamanders, which are dwarfed by their even larger still prehistoric cousins.
Curiously, it breathes mostly through folds of light-sensitive skin which varies from a blotchy brown to reddish color. Swimming with undulating movements as well as numerous wrinkles, its eyes are small, beady, and lidless. It hunts predominately by sense of smell preying on snakes, fish, crawdads, and amphibians (including other hellbenders). Most often it can be found hiding beneath rocks with its flattened skull and body emerging only till dusk. Like newts, these primitive salamanders can regenerate loss limbs and some body parts. As amphibians they go through metamorphosis -about 1.5 years into life their external gills disappear until then, they resemble the ordinary common mudpuppy.
Animantarx, latin for “living fortress” or “animated citadel” were ankylosaurians aptly named. A rare find, it had been dug up from radioactive sediments from the Cedar Mountain Formation, Utah; the first and only one of its kind.
An early ankylosaur, it was related to nodosaurs such as sauropelta and gastonia, it lacked the famous ankylosaurian tail club but makes up for it with numerous defensive scutes and spikes. Three meters in length it may have been diminutive compared to tarchia and ankylosaurus (6-8 meters and several tons) but nodosaurs evolved more gracile and swift. Of ankylosaurs, there were several varieties: giant clubbed tanks and the spiny pangolin-like nodosaur or polacanths; all were interesting glimpses on body armor evolved by the world’s most heavily defensed saurians.