Stegosaurus were herbivorous dinosaurs from the Late Jurassic Period. These quadruped (having four legs) creatures were the only dinosaurs with 'plates' on their back―the 'dermal armor'. A spiked tail was also one of the characteristic features of this genus. Number of spikes varied from 4 - 8 in number, depending on the species. Their body was covered with rhamphothecae, i.e., horny sheaths. Stegosaurus were approximately 9-meters long and 4-meters tall. As many as 11 species of Stegosaurus were found on the Earth.
Stegosaurus - The Armored Dinosaurs
- The opinions of scientists about the function/use of plates on the body of Stegosaurus vary a lot. According to some scientists, these plates served the purpose of regulating body temperature. Others claim that the plates were used for self-defense.
- Their brain was roughly the size of a walnut. It was initially believed that their brain was located in their hip region. However, this claim was ruled out by scientists later on.
- The diet of these dinosaurs primarily included ferns and other plants. Though there is very little evidence to suggest so, but seeds of different plants, leaves of conifers, etc., could have also been part of their diet.
- Stegosaurus, due to their body frame, were not able to reach out to the taller branches of trees. They were therefore, known to feed on plants at a lesser height (3 - 4 feet).
- They would bite/tear off leaves from plants and chew/grind them. Food was digested in stomach and gizzard―an organ found even in today's birds, where the grinding of hard/coarse food materials takes place. They used to consume gastroliths and stones in order to break the tough food materials and thereby, ease out the process of digestion.
- The hind legs of these dinosaurs were larger in comparison to their front legs. While their hind legs had 3 toes each, their front legs were characterized by the presence of 5 toes.
- Stegosaurus were oviparous, i.e., they laid eggs. The number of eggs laid in a clutch varied between 6 and 8.
- The western region of North America is the area where these dinosaurs were found in large numbers. They preferred areas with sufficient amount of water, as such areas also provided food aplenty.
- The predators of Stegosaurus included Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus―carnivores from the Late Jurassic period. Some scientists believe that they used their tail for the purpose of defense against these predators.
- Ankylosaurus of Cetacean period are said to be closely related to Stegosaurus. Just like Stegosaurus, they had four legs. Both genera were classified under a group called Thyreophoran.
- Though they were quadrupeds, scientists initially thought that they were bipedal. Even tdoay, some scientists believe that these dinosaurs were capable of standing on their hind legs.
And here's the most interesting fact of them all. The tail of Stegosaurus is called the thagomizer. The word was coined by cartoonist Gary Larson and first used in his cartoon titled the 'Far Side' in 1982.