All About the Stegosaurus: The Roofed Lizard


The Stegosaurus is one of the most recognizable types of dinosaurs. Their distinctive plates along its back, which are called "thagomizer" (thought to be used in mating rituals), make it an iconic figure in prehistoric lore. It has also been featured in popular games and movies such as Jurassic Park III, Age Of Empires II, Godzilla: Final Wars, and Walking With Dinosaurs 3D. The word Stegosaurus means "roofed lizard." This name was coined by Othniel Charles Marsh after he found a fossilized skeleton with what appeared to be roof tiles on its back. Other common names for this dinosaur are “stego” or “stega” for short.

The Stegosaurus journeyed through what is now North America during the late Jurassic period. It had a lengthy body with a short tail and four sturdy legs, which many believe to have been an effective defense against predator attacks. This dinosaur also had a relatively small head in proportion to its body, which some hypothesize were used mainly for cropping vegetation.

Enough of that, we're here to learn the specifics. Here's what you need to know about the roofed lizard: the Stegosaurus.

 

Description and Appearance

Stegosaurus means 'roofed lizard'. This plant-eater got this name from the plates running along its back, which were very similar to the tiles on a roof. These plates are what make it so easy to identify this dinosaur. The Stegosaurus also had two pairs of spikes that stuck out sideways from its tail, similar to that of a modern-day porcupine.

This dinosaur had a small head with an even smaller brain, but this didn't stop the Stegosaurus from being one of the most successful dinosaurs ever.

The Stegosaurus had a large bulky body with four sturdy legs that could support its weight. It had a thick tail with huge spikes on the end that were used as protection against predators. The Stegosaurus couldn't use its tail as a weapon, because it was too bulky.

These tail spikes can reach up to 9 inches (23 centimeters) long and were hollow at the base. The Stegosaurus also had sharp claws on each finger, with three digits on both front and hind legs.

Its head is small and only consists of the nasal opening and the eye sockets, with small teeth at the end of its jaws. The Stegosaurus' skull roof was thick, flat, and triangular in shape. This made it impossible for this dinosaur to lift its head up because there just wasn't any space. The Stegosaurus' brain was small, but not as small as it would have been in the skull roof was any higher.

But honestly, who needs brains when you’re covered in plates and soft as a baby’s butt? Oh, the last part’s only applicable to Gage Beasley’s Stegosaurus Dinosaur Soft Stuffed Plush Toy, though. Don’t worry! Its spikes don’t hurt at all, it could even be the very reason you’ll sleep well the next night.

Gage Beasley’s Stegosaurus Dinosaur Soft Stuffed Plush Toy

The Stegosaurus was one of the largest four-legged dinosaurs, reaching up to 33 feet (10 meters) long and 15 feet (4.6 meters) tall at its hips. The Stegosaurus weighed around 5 tons (5,000 kilograms), about as heavy as an elephant. It is estimated that this dinosaur could reach a speed of 25 mph (40 km/h).

 

Diet

The Stegosaurus had a short neck that made it so it couldn't reach any higher than 1 meter, but this didn't matter because the vegetation at the time was not high enough to feed this dinosaur anyway. This is why it's believed that these dinosaurs could have browsed on low-lying plants, shrubs, and even swamp vegetation.

The Stegosaurus was herbivorous, which means it only ate plants. Plants were its sole source of nourishment and helped it survive in the late Jurassic Period.

The Stegosaurus lived during the late Jurassic Period about 150 million years ago.

It was once thought that this dinosaur had to chew its food, but now it is believed that they were able to swallow their food whole. This makes sense because of the small head and brain size of this dinosaur. It's possible that Stegosaurus' used gastroliths to aid in their digestion. Gastroliths are stones that many herbivorous dinosaurs swallowed, which helped to break down the food they ate.

 

Reproduction

Stegosaurus's had a similar reproduction strategy as elephants. The female Stegosaurus would give birth to one or two babies at a time and show very little maternal care after that. It takes about 25 years for the Stegosaurus to mature, and it didn't stop growing when it reached adulthood as many other dinosaurs did.

The mating rituals of these dinosaurs are unknown.

 

Discovery

Via Natural History Museum

Stegosaurus fossils have been found in North America, especially in the state of Colorado. This is because it has many sites that are rich with Jurassic Period fossils.

The Stegosaurus became extinct about 60 million years ago during the late Cretaceous Period. The cause of their extinction is not known, but some scientists think that all dinosaurs died out because of an asteroid-related event.

When Stegosaurus fossils were first found, they were mistaken for giant turtles. A turtle shell was even put on the skeleton and displayed at Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology until it was realized that these skeletons actually belonged to some kind of dinosaur, not a reptile. This mistake was due to the fact that the bodies of turtles and Stegosaurus were similar in shape and structure. This is not a mistake one would make today because we have seen many stegosauruses and know that they aren't reptiles.

The Stegosaurus has been around for millions of years, but humans have only known about its existence since the late 1800s when it was first discovered by Othniel Charles Marsh in 1877. Marsh was an American paleontologist who discovered many new types of dinosaurs on the East Coast, including the Stegosaurus.

The first Stegosaurus fossil that Marsh found was called "tail-dragger" because it had a large tail and walked very close to the ground like modern-day ostriches. This dinosaur is now known as the Stegosaurus stenops, meaning "narrow-faced."

The second stegosaurus fossil Marsh found was the now-famous Stegosaurus armatus or "shield-bearer" named by Othniel Charles's rival E.D. Cope. This dinosaur has two large plates sticking up from its back and is the most well-known of the two.

The third and most complete skeleton of a stegosaurus was found in 1891 by George Reber Wieland. He was an avid fossil hunter who went on many digs with his family in Colorado. This particular dinosaur is now known as Stegosaurus ungulatus or "hoofed" because it does not have the plates and is thought to be a younger version of Stegosaurus armatus.

 

Conclusion

During the late Jurassic Period, many new types of dinosaurs were being discovered. The Stegosaurus lived alongside such dinosaurs as Allosaurus and Apatosaurus. Its body structure was different than most other dinosaurs but very successful for its time period and environment.

The armor plates on its back and spiked tail were used as a defense mechanism against predators like Allosaurus. It may have also used its plates to help regulate its body temperature, much like modern-day turtles. Its small head and brain size indicate that it was not a very intelligent dinosaur, but was still able to live for millions of years.

Stegosaurus fossils are found in abundance in Colorado because this area has many Jurassic Period fossil sites. This is because it has many mountains, which are slowly eroding to reveal the fossils that lie underneath.

Cheers!

~GB


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