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21 Spectacular Stegosaurus Facts

One of largest dinosaurs to have walked the face of the Earth was the Stegosaurus. It was a large, plant-eating dinosaur that lived during the late Jurassic Period, roughly about 150.8 million years ago. It was about the size of a bus and carried two rows of bony plates along its back making it appear bigger than it actually was! One would naturally associate its size with dominance and intelligence, but how right would that assumption be? This post puts the Stegosaurus in the limelight, highlighting everything we know about these spiky critters.

  1. Stegosaurus essentially translates to ‘roof lizard’ which comes from the way its back plates were arranged.
  2. The dinosaur probably weighed around 10,000 pounds and was famous for its diamond-shaped plates that were lined up and down its back. The plates were as large as 2 feet by 2 feet. It also had 4 sharp spiked on its tail which were 2 or 3 feet long.
  3. The Stegosaurus was a large, slow-moving plant-eater which could defend itself from predators such as tyrannosaurus rex with the help of its powerful spiky tail!
  4. Interestingly, the bony plates running down the back of the Stegosaurus were embedded within the skin of the dinosaur, and weren’t attached to its skeleton! This is precisely why most fossils finds have the plates as being separate from the body.
  5. Despite all that talk about the plates on the body of the Stegosaurus, the exact use of them hasn’t been discovered yet. While some scientists believe that they might have been used as a mechanism to defend against predators, others are of the belief that it was a means for members belonging to the same species to recognise each other.
  6. Tiny grooves were present on the plate surfaces which is presumably where the blood vessels could have been present. The amount of blood passing through these vessels determine the amount of heat transferred in the body of the Stegosaurus.
  7. These walking giants might have instilled fear in animals both larger and smaller than it, but a little-known fact is that the Stegosaurus had a small head and brain- which is believed to be the size of a walnut!
  8. The most complete Stegosaurus skeleton discovered went on display in the Natural History Museum’s Earth Hall in December 2014. This was identified to by a member of the species Stegosaurus stenops which is aiding researchers to uncover more facts about the animal. This includes information such as what it might have looked like when it was alive, how it walked, ate as well as its behavioural patterns.
  9. Circular lumps were arranged on the underside of the neck of the Stegosaurus which were believed to have assisted the dinosaur in shielding its jugular from hungry predators.
  10. Here’s a rather scary fact: It is said that a noticeable percentage of known Stegosaurus tail spikes have broken and re-healed tips which indicate that in real life, their owners did more than just use them as an ornament of show! One famous Allosaurus vertebrae included an unusual hole which as apparently made when the carnivore tangled with a feisty Stegosaurus and its well-armed hind end.
Stegosaurus Size

via https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stegosaurus_armatus_scale.png

  1. The Stegosaurus had quite the gait, as its body structure suggests. It walked on four legs and kept its head low on the ground while its spiked tail waved high in the air.
  2. The characteristically arched appearance of the dinosaur was mainly due to shorter front limbs in comparison to the rear ones. Their feet were short and broad, rendering the dinosaur barely agile and relatively slow.
  3. The year 2010 saw palaeontologist Miriam Reichel discovering that the Stegosaurus’ chompers didn’t exert much force. However, the ability to snip through smaller branches ranked high on the Stegosaurus resume!
  4. Although the Stegosaurus was first found in the US, there is a strong indication that it roamed the Portuguese terrain as well, roughly 150 million years ago!
  5. Stegosaurus’ usually grew to a length of about 6.5 meters (21 feet) but some are believed to have reached 9 meters (30 feet).
  6. Can you guess the state dinosaur of the US state Colorado? Brownie points for anyone who guessed Stegosaurus!
  7. Here’s a rocky fact about the Stegosaurus- it is said that the mighty dino swallowed rocks to aid the digestion of plant matter. It seems unusual that rocks were considered digestible to these old critters, doesn’t it?
  8. The Stegosaurus was first discovered in 1877 by Othniel Charles Marsh during the Great Dinosaur Rush which was also known as the Bone Wars.
  9. Experts believe that the Stegosaurus had cheeks! This gave them the ability to thoroughly chew and pre-digest its food before swallowing it, allowing it to pack away more vegetable matter than its counterparts that didn’t have cheeks.
  10. As the dinosaur was discovered relatively early in paleontological history, it has become the poster-lizard for wacky dinosaur theories! Early naturalists thought that the dinosaur was bipedal just like the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Some experts argue that the dinosaur may have been capable of the occasional hind foot stand especially when threatened by predators.
  11. It is said that the Stegosaurus’ of the late Jurassic period were cousins of the ankylosaurs which prospered tens of millions of years later during the middle to the late Cretaceous period.

Any presumptions that might have existed about the Stegosaurus are officially out in the open! These unique creatures might have existed millions of years ago, but the fact that their legacy is still talked about in today’s times is a testament to the impact they left behind.

Stegosaurus Fact-File

TypeArmoured Dinosaur
Length9 metres
Weight3,000 kilograms
DietHerbivore (plant eater!)
TeethBeak with small rounded and peg-like teeth. Cheeks for storing more food!
MovementQuadrupedal (walked on four legs)
LivedLate Jurassic period, around 155-145 million years ago
Found inUnited States of America

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