Stegosaurus

Stegosaurus (Pronounced: Steg-owe-sore-uss)

Stegosaurus means “Roofed Reptile” – a name this dinosaur got thanks to its two rows of large, upright plates that ran along its back and tail. One of the most famous and well-known of all dinosaurs today, Stegosaurus lived during the late Jurassic Period, around 150 million years ago.

In addition to their plates, Stegosaurus had four deadly spikes at the end of its tail to defend against meat-eating carnivores. They weren’t very fast, so if attacked, they would stand their ground and fight off predators by swinging their spiky tail from side to side.

Despite being the largest plated dinosaurs, being similar in size to a modern-day elephant, they are best known for their small brains – which were about the size of a walnut. Experts suspect that Stegosaurus and its Stegosauridae cousins where among the least intelligent dinosaurs to have existed.

Another interesting feature of Stegosaurus is its lack of teeth – they had no front teeth at all. To compensate, this dinosaur would swallow stones – called gastroliths – which helped Stegosaurus to digest their food more easily, as it is thought that they likely ate without chewing.

Surprisingly, the plates on a Stegosaurus were probably not use for protection, as they were soft and hollow. It is more likely that, despite their formidable look, that they were used to help better regulate and control body temperature. In addition to this, it is also suspected that the skin covering the plates may have changed color, displaying embarrassment, excitement, or fear – working very much the same way as flushed, red cheeks do in humans.

Stegosaurus facts

How long was Stegosaurus?
30 ft (9 m)

How heavy was Stegosaurus?
6,000 lbs (2,700 kg)

What family of dinosaur does Stegosaurus belong to?
Stegosauridae

What did Stegosaurus eat?
Plants

How long ago did Stegosaurus live?
150 million years ago

In what period did Stegosaurus live?
Late Jurassic

Where did Stegosaurus live?
North America

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