Scientific Name: Stegosaurus stenops, meaning "roof lizard" or "plated lizard"

Time Period: 156-146 million years ago, Late Jurassic


Stegosaurus headStegosaurus is a genus of armored dinosaur, with large bone plates along its neck, back and tail. It had a very small head and brain.

Like most plant-eating dinosaurs, it had no teeth in the front of its mouth, but only a beak. On the sides of the jaws it had tiny, palm-shaped cheek teeth for chewing soft vegetation.

There were 17 bony plates embedded along its back, alternating in alignment. These plates ran from the neck to the tail and they probably had two purposes: one was for show, so that animals could recognize each other, or make themselves look bigger and more threatening; the other reason is to get rid of extra body heat in the hot environment in which they lived.

Stegosaurus spikeThe largest plates were roughly 2 1/2 feet high and 2 1/2 feet wide and there were bony spikes on the end of the flexible tail. The spikes were up to 18” long and were used to protect them from predators. We see evidence of this with a damaged Allosaurus tail vertebra that was pierced by a Stegosaurus spike. 

Stegosaurus legStegosaurus had three toes on the elephant-like hind legs, which were significantly longer than front legs. The toes had blunt hooves like many plant-eating dinosaurs. Because it is so front heavy, Stegosaurus walked on all fours (quadrupedal).

The small blunt teeth show that Stegosaurus was an herbivore. It had a large gut to break down the plants it ate. 

Stegosaurus was most probably prey for the likes of Allosaurus, Torvosaurus, and maybe even smaller meat eaters.

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