Set in the early 14th century A. D. the sudden appearance of dinosaurs wrecked havoc on the world, no one know why but everybody raced to come up with powerful theories except for a particular group of people who just want to cut things. Is it possible for people at that time period to develop technology and techniques to allow an olympic champion who owns 20 gold medals in every categories recognised by the official to cut through the thickest layer of hide from a fully grown sexually mature ankylosaurus who just laid her 3rd egg? To qualify for a gold medal, the person must swing the weapon with not more than 1 left hand and 1 right hand, no drug even if it affects the wrong part of the body, up to 3 attempts on a spot, the edge of weapon must sever at least 10000 muscle fibers and the list is not exhausive but please come up with a solution before the patch.

  • $\begingroup$ According to my private fossil collection of partial complete adult anky, I developed an break through method of counting muscles fiber from imprints on rock surface and I also proposed that this particular specimen have been working out and taking steriod regularly $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Dec 26, 2019 at 1:43
  • $\begingroup$ Could the champion choose the weakest spot on dinosaur's body? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Dec 26, 2019 at 3:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander: if anybody could repeat the stunt then only certificate of participation is given, the gold medal is only given to selected few because the task is hard and standard is high. BTW the standard is always improving just like today's, so weak spot is legally accepted officially. $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Dec 26, 2019 at 3:20
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    $\begingroup$ In the 14th century, the appearance of large dinosaurs wouldn't wreak any havoc. They would be a blessing. Free food! $\endgroup$
    – vsz
    Dec 26, 2019 at 11:17
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    $\begingroup$ FYI - there were no Olympics in the 14th century. The ancient Greek games had long since ended, and the modern games didn't start until 1896. $\endgroup$ Dec 26, 2019 at 15:05

3 Answers 3


Executioner's Sword

Man-at-Arms: Executioner's Sword

[This lovely behemoth is a forged replica of the sword Ice from Game of Thrones made by Man at Arms: Reforged. Ilya, one of the build members, specifically refers to it as an Executioner's Sword during the build.]

Most swords in the medieval age weren't designed specifically to cut clean through human tissue. They were designed with combat in mind, so the whole 'cutting clean through people' thing was considered alongside other useful things like weight, balance, etc. However, when it came to killing people via public execution, they didn't have to worry about things like that. So they made a slightly different sword - the executioner's sword. This thing was a weapon designed to do one thing and one thing only - cut clean through a human. And it was brutally effective, with an horrifying capable edge and the weight to help land a powerful cleaver-like blow.

Now, I can't scale this against ankylosaurus, because I don't know what their skin is like. But I can scale this against the next best choice - alligators and crocodiles, who more or less have the strongest skin in the animal kingdom. And gator skin isn't bulletproof. Does this work? More or less - a typical medieval sword weighed about 2 1/2 pounds. A heavy sword might weigh up to 4 1/2. But an Executioner's Sword could weight up to 12 pounds. And that's the size of a short sword - if you felt like it, you could make it even longer and double the weight, but we're not going to. As to how fast a sword can be swung, this article gave us 70 km/h. Our sword is heavier, but at the same time the article wasn't done by someone specially trained to do it, so that's not going to be too far off. (Extra weight is actually a bonus here - we're going for a vertical chop.) Add them up together, and the sword is sitting at around a kilojoule of energy, at minimum. Compare that to the ever-common .38 Special at 358 joules. Admittedly, compared to an armor-piercing .50 BMG round (18 kilojoules) it's lackluster, bullets have less of a surface area so they impact harder (though not that much less - executioner's sword were forged to be as sharp as would hold the edge), and not all the kinetic energy of the sword would be transferred during the chop. On the flip side, swords are point-blank range, which is a small point in there favor. So, all-in-all if it's not bulletproof, it's not executioner's-swords-proof.

And that's especially true if you made the sword out of, say, Damascus steel (available in the 14th century), it would certainly be hard enough to pierce clean through the hide, given enough force. (To the best of my knowledge, there isn't a Damascus Steel Executioner's Sword that currently exists today, but the knowledge technically existed in the 14th century to make one.) And, given the strength of the man you have swinging the blade, it could absolutely pierce through 10,000 muscles fibers. (For reference, that's about 1 square millimeter.) Not to mention, you know, at least a foot's worth. In fact, if you got a good swing off, you could probably live up to the Executioner in the name Executioner's Sword and take the dinosaur's head clean off. The ankylosaurus did have some rather impressively thick bone structures, however, these weren't articulated on its back, and thus didn't completely cover it. (That makes sense - there were no predators with swords at the time.) Meaning, that while attacking the bone-like armor plating there might not work, the rest of it is fair game - at least relatively fair game.

[Finally note: I'd really love to compare the surface area of a medieval sword's cutting edge against that of a bullet's surface area, but all the literature I could find talks about how thin modern swords can be. I'd like to say that you could make a Damscus Sword with that kind of thinness, but that's kind of cheating, so I won't.]

  • $\begingroup$ Upvoted, I like the execution sword especially the name it got the word "sword" in it :) $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Dec 26, 2019 at 2:13
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    $\begingroup$ I'd go with a Dane axe or any large axe of a similar design.. I think the whole sword thing was mostly for other reasons. An axe is a far better chopper, you don't see wood chopping swords at all, with a smaller cutting portion, so a more concentrated cut, and a longer handle making you even get more leverage behind the swing. $\endgroup$
    – Seallussus
    Dec 26, 2019 at 2:45
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    $\begingroup$ bullet proof and sword proof are vastly different things, more importantly crocodile skin is vastly different then ankylosaur skin. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Dec 26, 2019 at 4:38
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    $\begingroup$ @John Look, we can nitpick all night if you want to, personally I don't. You seem to want to count the armored bone plates as part of the hide, I have no desire to do so. And you've already given me your downvote, so honestly there's no point in arguing this if you're just going to take umbrage with everything I say. That said, you know more about dinosaurs than I do, I know more about swords than you do, so it's best if we agree to disagree and stop at this point. This conversation has been interesting, you gave a good answer that I learned from, and I wish you a most merry holiday season. $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Dec 27, 2019 at 2:09
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    $\begingroup$ Knives go through bulletproof vests; bullets go through stabproof vests. Swords are more than just bundles of kinetic energy, especially if used correctly. This is a great answer as written. $\endgroup$
    – fectin
    Dec 27, 2019 at 16:25

Pick > axe > sword

An axe is better than a sword disperses the force too much. Axes concentrate the force on a smaller cutting area although even then it is unlikely. A war pick is even be better since you are looking to do such a small amount of damage to the muscle. A well made, heavy, hardened pick might do it, the fact bone may crack will help in that regard.

You are trying to cut through 6-8 inches of bone and more than an inch of horn, before you even get to muscle. Imagine trying to cut through a 4X4 wrapped in cutting board plastic, that is similar to what you are trying to cut. For comparison to another animal imagine trying to kill a bighorn ram by chopping through the horn and even that is likely an underestimate. And chop is the right word for harder materials slicing is irrelevant it is chopping, which is more about a wedge forcing material apart.

Here is just the bony parts of the armor, not including the ribs below that and the keratin above it. enter image description here

Even with the perfect hit I would estimate they will fail, the thickest part of an ankylosaurus armor is ridiculous, but it might be possible.

  • $\begingroup$ Upvoted like mind think alike, but just to make sure I'm thinking of spikes trap... also no medal or cert will be issued in that case because it is not how melee works. $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Dec 26, 2019 at 4:55
  • $\begingroup$ @user6760 you probably need to use wood chopping axe though (bigger/heavier probably only can be swing once by heavy lifter guy) rather than battle axe, just incase you dont know that battle axe is thinner and lighter than the type to chopping wood, i doubt you can cut through with battle axe including dane axe, the blade is wide but it also thin, beside wood chopping axe have wider section to split or push apart the object (iam not sure the correct english name for it) so i think it may can work to break through the shell (not sure it work well with the muscle though). $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Dec 26, 2019 at 10:10
  • $\begingroup$ @LiJun Thin is fine it increases how deep the cut will be, and battle axes are not that much thinner than a good wood axe anyway. the main difference is how tall the blade is, since there is less chance of missing a tree. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Dec 26, 2019 at 18:24
  • $\begingroup$ @John yeah, but iam not sure it farewell against the shell, i was thinking a thicker axe like combination of maul and axe can help better in breaking the shell and cutting through the muscle, since he want to slice the ankylosaur, but you know better than me anyway, so i believe you regarding battle axe is sufficient enough to cut through the shell and muscle. $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Dec 27, 2019 at 4:43
  • $\begingroup$ @LiJun adding weight would certainly help, I was just talking about the profile of the blade. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Dec 27, 2019 at 7:01

I found it rather hard to look up various bone thicknesses, but anklosaurus osteoderms seem to have been about 1cm, not very different from pig skulls. And chopping through a pig skull with a one-handed axe seems pretty easy:


  • $\begingroup$ You are probably right. The ankylosaurus was the size of a car and probably about 6 tons of weight, which implies that, despite looking like a living tank, it wasn't that much different from other animals living today. An elephant may be a terrible foe, but it's not invulnerable no blades. $\endgroup$
    – Rekesoft
    Dec 26, 2019 at 10:39
  • $\begingroup$ 1-8cm (not including the ribs below) and covered with several centimeters of horn, this is not a pigs skull, it is like cutting through the thickest part of a bighorn sheep horn. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Dec 27, 2019 at 2:04

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