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The Stegosaurus was a dinosaur that lived about 150 million years ago during the Late Jurassic Period. Fossils of the Stegosaurus have been found in western North America and Europe. It was first named and discovered by Othniel Charles Marsh in 1877.
How big was the Stegosaurus?
The Stegosaurus was about the size of a bus, 30 feet long and 14 feet high. It probably weighed around 10,000 pounds! It is most famous for the diamond shaped plates that are lined up and down its back. These plates could be as big as 2 feet by 2 feet. It also had 4 sharp spikes on its tail that were 2 to 3 feet long which it likely used for defense.
The Stegosaurus walked on four legs and kept its head low to the ground, while keeping its spiked tail high in the air. It had a relatively small head and small brain. It also had small forelegs compared to its rear legs, which suggests that it wasn't very fast.
The purpose of the stegosaurus' plates is much debated by scientists (paleontologists). Some think that they were primarily for defense against larger predator dinosaurs. Others think that they were for display to intimidate enemies and to attract other dinosaurs. Still another theory is that they were used to cool off the dinosaur. The extra surface area would allow for wind and air to cool the blood of the dinosaur.
What did it eat?
The Stegosaurus was an herbivore meaning that it ate plants. It likely ate plants like mosses, ferns, and fruits. It is likely that the dinosaur fed and grazed for food in large groups or herds.
Where to see a stegosaurus on display?
Many museums have a model or actual display of the stegosaurus built out of fossils. These include the American Museum of Natural History, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
Fun Facts about the Stegosaurus
- The name Stegosaurus, means roof lizard or covered lizard, due to the plates on its back.
- It is Colorado's state dinosaur.
- Some scientists think that the stegosaurus may have had a second, larger brain located further down in its spinal cord.
- Because it has such a small brain in comparison to its large size, many people think that the stegosaurus was the dumbest of the dinosaurs.
- It is one of the most recognizable dinosaurs and can be found in movies and cartoons from Jurassic Park to Bob the Builder.
For more about Dinosaurs:
Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus) - Giant plant eater.
Stegosaurus - Dinosaur with cool plates on its back.
Tyrannosaurus Rex - All sorts of info on the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Triceratops - Learn about the giant skulled three horned dinosaur.
Velociraptor - Birdlike dinosaur that hunted in packs.
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