Stegosaurus is an ornithiscian, Stegosaurid plant-eater that lived approximately 152-141 millin y
ears ago from the Late Jurassic period (late Kimmeridgian to Early Tithonian) in what is now western North America in the United States. Its name means Roofed Lizard it was an incredibly well defended animal with its spike studded tail and likely incredibly agressive due to its small brain to bady ratio. It is one of the most popular dinosaurs today easily making the top 5 most famous dinosaurs of all time it has appeared in countless films and books and is loved throughout the world.
Stegosaurus was originally named and found by Othniel Charles Marsh in 1877, from remains recovered north of Morrison, Colorado two species are know from the remains Stegosaurus armatus and Stegosaurus stenops.
Stegosaurus is an interesting animal, to say the least. It's body design is unique: it has a bulky, quadrupedal design, medium-length tail, and small head. But Stegosaurus' most interesting feature is the double rows of large, bony plates running down it's spine. These back plates are what makes Stegosaurus so well-known, though their purpose is a mystery. Stegosaurus was a well-defended animal: a cluster of armor-like scutes covered it's most delicate region: the throat. A thagomizer formation of spikes adorned the tip of it's tail, making an effective defense for attacking carnivores on the attack.
Stegosaurus was the largest stegosaurid that had been found Averaging around 30 ft long and 14 ft tall and weighing in at over 4.5 tonnes its tail spikes were about 3 ft long and its large bony plates came in at about 60 centimeters (2 ft) wide and 60 centimeters tall.
Stegosaurus lived in the late Jurassic period, in the western and central United States. This puts it in a wet, humid, plains and forest habitat. Stegosaurus lived alongside other herbivores like the sauropods, Barosaurus, Diplodocus, and Apatosaurus, and other ornithicsians like Camptosaurus and Drinker. It may have been antagonized by carnivores like Allosaurus, but some say that Stegosaurus was too dangerous to worry about threat from predators.
One of the most enigmatic features of Stegosaurus is the dorsal plates aligning it's back. The purpose of these is unknown, but there are many theories. One such thoery suggests that they were used to regulate temperature. Here, the spines would be filled with blood vessels, meaning that if the creature was cold, it could lean to the side, allowing sunlight to hit the plates like a solar panel, sending warmth through the bloodstream. Another theory says that they were used as a warning against carnivores, pumping with blood so as to flare up with color, bright reds and pinks, creating an intimidating display. Another feature is the spiked tail, also known as a thagomizer. The end of the tail has three foot long conical spines pointing out to the side. This would have been useful protection. The tail itself was enough to break bones, and with the spikes, Stegosaurus could inflict serious or fatal wounds. Stegosaurus had a small head, containing an even smaller brain, barely the size of two walnuts. There is a famous statement that Stegosaurus had two brains, one in its hips. This is probobly because the discoverer of Stegosaurus, Onethiel Marsh, said he found a "big nerve cluster" in its hips. Brains basically nerve clusters, so people thought that there was a brain in there! But in the 1990's paleontologist Emily Buchholtz relizied all vertabrates, including us, have the same space in their hips called a ganglion. This is filled with fatty tisse! We know now that Stegosaurus, and all other dinosaurus have only one brain.
Stegosaurus had four spikes on the end of its tail, each about 1m long. It had powerful hip muscles enabling it to swing the tail with considerable force. It also had large plates running down its length, these were filled with blood vessels and may have been flushed with colour to scare away attackers. Like many other Thyreophorans, it was most likely not a regular prey for theropods, and was probably only attacked during times of drought that brought shortages of prey. One of the animals that even had a chance at bringing down this spike studded animal was another well known dinosaur allosaurus.