The Stegosaurus is a dinosaur that lived around 150 million years ago during the Jurassic period. The name “Stegosaurus” means “roof lizard” and refers to the plates on its back. Its remains have been found in North America and Europe. The cause of extinction of this massive dinosaur is unknown, but it may have been due to a combination of factors, including changes in climate and competition from other dinosaurs.

Key Facts

Stegosaurus pronunciationSTEG-oh-SORE-us
What does Stegosaurus mean?Roof lizard
Dinosaur typeStegosauria
On the menuHerbivorous
Length7 meters (23 feet)
Height2.5 m ( 8 feet 4 inches )
Weight2 tons (about 4400 lbs)
Life expectancyUnknown
Legs used to get aroundQuadruped
Estimated top speed6-7 km/h ( 4-5 mph)
When they livedLate Jurassic era 155-145 million years ago
Where they have been found?USA

When & Where

The first Stegosaurus fossils were discovered in the 1870s. In 1877, Othniel Charles Marsh officially named the species Stegosaurus based on an analysis of remains discovered north of Morrison, Colorado. This find became the holotype of the Stegosaurus and the basis of its scientific name. Over the years, several species have been described, but only a handful have been deemed relevant: Stegosaurus armatus, Stegosaurus stenops, and Stegosaurus longsipinus. 

Size & Weight

The Stegosaurus is one of the most popular dinosaurs, and it’s easy to see why! This massive creature was up to 30 feet long and weighed around 4 tons. That’s pretty big, but compared to other dinosaurs like the Sauropods, it was actually on the smaller side.

Its distinctive plates along the back make it instantly recognizable. Interestingly, recent research has suggested that the plates may have been used to regulate the dinosaur’s body temperature. Regardless of their purpose, there’s no doubt that the Stegosaurus is one of the most fascinating creatures to have ever lived!

Mobility & Diet

This massive creature was a gentle giant that primarily ate leaves and other vegetation. The skull’s low position proves that the Stegosaurus was probably a browser of low-lying vegetation, and the flat-surfaced teeth clearly indicate that they did grind plant matter. Inset placements within their jaws also indicate that the Stegosaurus had cheeks that allowed them to keep food in their mouths during chewing.

The Stegosaurus was quadruped and had a unique posture -a heavily arched back, shorter forelimbs, a stiffened tail and a relatively lower head-to-ground distance. The hind feet had three fingers on each one of them, while the forelimbs had five.

Interesting Points

  • The Stegosaurus is one of the most studied dinosaurs, and we continue to learn more about it every year.
  • It was one of the largest dinosaurs that roamed the Earth during the Jurassic period.
  • The Stegosaurus longsipinus is notable because of its unusual long tails spines that grew up to 7 meters in length.

Featured Image Credit: Fred Wierum, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons