The Stegosaurus was a uniquely looking dinosaur, as its body was covered with large, flat plate that decorated the length of the back. The Stegosaurus thrived during the late Jurassic Period, which was about 156 to 140 million years ago. In this article, you will learn more facts about the dinosaur which name translates into ‘Covered Lizard or ‘Roof Lizard.’
The most distinct characteristics of body that the Stegosaurs possessed were its plates. There were 17 bony plates in total on the back of the Stegosaurus. The plates followed a pattern of two rows that included the tail end of the dinosaur. The plates also alternated in their alignment. It wasn’t until the discovery of a Colorado Stegosaurus specimen in 1992 that scientists were clear on the arrangement of the plates.
The plates weren’t just growths on its back, as they contained a network of blood vessels. Scientists believe the plates served as features that collected and set out heat to the rest of the body. If this is true, then the dinosaur was ectothermic, meaning that it was a cold-blooded creature that used the plates to regulate its body heat. Other theories concerning the plates were that they protected the body of the dinosaur or they could have served as a showy display for mating Stegosaurus.
The Stegosaurus had a tail, which was decorated with spikes at the end, which measured up to 4 feet long. This feature protected the dinosaur from predators, as they were pointed out to the sides of the tail. Depending on the species of Stegosaurus, the number of spikes on the tail differed. For example, the Stegosaurus ungulatis had 8 spikes, while the Stegosaurus stenops only had 4 spikes.
The Stegosaurus was up to 26 to 30 feet long and measured around 9 feet tall. The dinosaur walked on four legs with back legs measuring twice as long as the front legs. It carried around 6,800 pounds of body weight. The skull of the Stegosaurus was long, pointed and narrow. However, it had a very small head and brain that was comparable to the same size of a walnut. Its head was usually positioned close to the ground.
Other physical features of the dinosaur were a toothless beak, small teeth, and armor-like pieces of skin around the neck and hips.
The Stegosaurus was a plant eater (herbivore) and in order to sustain its size, the creature had to eat a large amount of low-calorie plant material every day. Its toothless beak helped the Stegosaurus obtain food, which was most likely no taller than 3 feet tall. The bulk of its diet would have consisted of ferns, cycads, horsetails, smaller club mosses, and bushy conifers.
It is thought that the Stegosaurus had to battle large, meat-eating dinosaurs that came from the western part of North America during the late Jurassic Period , which was around 156 to 140 million years ago. This meant that predators may have included the Allosaurus, Torvosaurus, and Ceratosaurus.
Fossil hunters looking for the remains of Stegosaurus will have the most luck in western North America, such as Utah, Wyoming, and in Colorado (at a place called Dinosaur Ridge). The first Stegosaurus fossil ever found was in Colorado in 1876. The lucky discoverer was M.P. Felch.