The Stegoceras was a plant-eating dinosaur that roamed the earth during the Late Cretaceous period. It was about the size of a small cow and is considered one of the smallest members of its faunal family – pachycephalosaurus. It had a solid skullcap characterized by its family of dinosaurs. As the Stegoceras continued to grow, the size and thickness of the skull also increased. 

Key Facts

Stegoceras pronunciationste-GOS-er-as
What does Stegoceras mean?Horny roof
Dinosaur typeOrnithopod
On the menuHerbivorous
Length2.1 meters (about 7 feet)
Height1.2 m ( 4 feet )
Weight70 kg  (about 150 lbs)
Life expectancyUnknown
Legs used to get aroundBipedal
Estimated top speed40 km/h ( 25 mph)
When they livedLate Cretaceous era 76-74 million years ago
Where they have been found?Canada, USA

When & Where

The Stegoceras was discovered in 1898 by Canadian paleontologist Lawrence Lambe from the Belly River Group. The first fossils were found in the Red Deer River district of Alberta, Canada. This discovery included two incomplete skull domes and a third incomplete dome that was collected in 1901, all from different-sized animals. Owing to these discoveries, Lawrence coined the nomenclature Stegoceras validus in 1902. While Lambe was not entirely sure as to whether or not the specimens represented only one species, the semblance was close. 

However, in 1943 a review by two American paleontologists concluded that there were over 45 types of skulls for dome-headed dinosaurs under which Stegoceras are classified. 

Size & Weight

The Stegoceras was a relatively small dinosaur, measuring about 3 meters (9.8 feet) long from nose to tail and weighing about 400-600 kg (880-1320 pounds). It had a short neck, a small head, and a long and thin tail. It was a member of the Ankylosaurus, a group of dinosaurs characterized by their heavily armored bodies. 

Mobility & Diet

The Stegoceras was a bipedal herbivore, and its diet would have consisted of plants, leaves, and fruits. However, this cannot be entirely ascertained as the Stegoceras had small ridged teeth that could not effectively aid the chewing of food compared to other herbivorous dinosaurs. Owing to this, it is believed that the Stegoceras indulged in a mixed type of diet. 

Interesting Points

  • Its femur was longer than the tibia, so it probably couldn’t run very fast.
  • It had a partial skeleton and fragmented skulls. 
  • The Stegoceras had a bony skullcap that researchers theorize would have been used to ram other animals.
  • The name Stegoceras means ‘roof horn’ from the Greek words Stegos – “roof” and Keras – ‘’horn”.

Featured Image Credit: Michael B. H., CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons