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The Stegosaurus (STEG-oh-SORE-us) dinosaur was first discovered in 1877 by Othniel Charles Marsh during the Great Dinosaur Rush — also known as the Bone Wars.
The name means “roofed lizard” or “plated lizard’, which was given because of its most prominent feature, the two rows of plates running down its back, along the spine.
It was the largest and most well-known member of the Stegosauridae family of armored dinosaurs. It lived during the late Jurassic Period, about 150.8 million to 155.7 million years ago. It primarily inhabited the western portion of North America and parts of Europe.
See the fact file below for more information on the Stegosaurus or alternatively, you can download our 27-page Stegosaurus worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
HISTORY & TAXONOMIC DETAILS
- KINGDOM: Animalia
- PHYLUM: Chordata
- CLASS: Reptilia
- SUPERORDER: Dinosauria
- ORDER: Ornithischia
- SUBORDER: Thyreophora
- INFRAORDER: Stegosauria
- FAMILY: Stegosauridae
- GENUS: Stegosaurus
- The name ‘Stegosaurus’ comes from the Greek words ‘Stegos’ meaning roof and ‘sauros’ meaning lizard.
- The first Stegosaurus fossil was found in Colorado, U.S.A., and was named in 1877 by Othniel C. Marsh. These first bones became the holotype of Stegosaurus armatus.
- Fossils from about 80 individuals were discovered in the Morrison Formation, which is centered in Wyoming and Colorado. It was also found in places such as Utah, Xinjiang (China) and Texas.
- In 2007, researchers discovered a Stegosaurus fossil in Portugal. This supports the idea that the two continents were once connected by temporary land bridges that surfaced during low tide.
- When O.C. Marsh described the first fossil of a Stegosaurus, he concluded that the plates would have lain flat on its back. Later on, Marsh realized that they stood vertically, alternately on either side of the spine.
- Marsh continued to collect and examine new Stegosaurus specimens and named new species. Only three are universally recognized: S. stenops, S. ungulatus and S. sulcatus.
- Stegosaurus stenops, meaning “narrow-faced roof lizard”, was named by Marsh in 1887 and is the best known and most studied Stegosaurus species due to its abundance of fossils, including a near-complete skeleton. It had proportionately large, broad plates and rounded tail plate that were arranged alternating in a staggered double row.
- Stegosaurus ungulatus, meaning “hoofed roof lizard” was named by Marsh in 1879 from remains recovered at Como Bluff, Wyoming. Stegosaurus ungulatus can be distinguished from S. stenops by the presence of longer hind limbs, proportionately smaller, more pointed plates with wide bases and narrow tips, and by several small, flat, spine-like plates just before the spikes on the tail.
- Stegosaurus sulcatus, meaning “furrowed roof lizard”, was described by Marsh in 1887 based on a partial skeleton. It is distinguished mainly by its unusually large, furrowed spikes with very large bases.
- In terms of size, the Stegosaurus was large and heavily built. On average, a fully grown Stegosaurus was around 9 meters (30 ft) in length, 4 meters (14ft) in height and up to 5 metric tons in weight.
- Its skull was very small in proportion to its body and it had a very small brain compared to its large body. It was once thought that its brain was the size of a walnut.
- The brain is estimated to have weighed only around 3 ounces — which is extraordinarily small for a creature that weighed much the same as an elephant.
- According to the dinosaur expert Kenneth Carpenter, director of the USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum in Utah, its brain had the size and shape of a bent hotdog.
- The quadruped, the Stegosaurus had a posture different than most dinosaurs with its rounded back and low head position because of its short forelimbs and long hind limbs. Its hind feet had only three toes while the front feet had five. All four limbs were supported by pads behind the toes.
- This leg-length imbalance suggests the dinosaur couldn’t move very fast because the stride of its back legs would have overtaken its front legs. Researchers believe they had a maximum speed of around 7 km/h (5mph).
- The Stegosaurus carried 17 bony plates, called scutes, that were embedded in its back and made it appear even bigger. The plates ran along its back and tail in two rows, and the plates alternated in alignment.
- The plates arose from the skin rather than being attached to the skeleton and were up to two feet tall and two feet (60cm) wide. They were made of a bony material called osteoderm but were not solid.
- These plates were initially thought to serve as armored protection from predators such as the allosaurus, but scientists now believe that they were used for thermoregulation.
- Scientists call the Stegosaurus’s spiked tail a thagomizer, that reached around 60cm (2ft) to 90cm (3ft) in length. These lethal spikes stuck out parallel to the ground, and would have been a potent defensive weapon when swung at a predator.
- Expert Kenneth Carpenter suggests that about 10 percent of spikes found showed damaged at the tip. Additionally, an allosaurus was uncovered with what appeared to be a puncture wound the size of a Stegosaurus’ spike.
- The Stegosaurus was a herbivore, as its toothless beak and small teeth were not designed to eat flesh and its jaw was not very flexible. Its mouth was a narrow toothless beak and the teeth were farther back in the cheeks. Its front legs were considerably shorter than it’s hind legs, making it adapted to nibbling the plants closest to the ground.
- This dinosaur did not have a strong jaw, with a bite weaker than a human’s. Its jaws were only capable of up-down movements. It could only break down twigs and branches less than half an inch in diameter and fed on soft shrubs and other vegetation, including ferns, mosses, horsetails, cycads, fruits, and conifers.
- Habitat: Woodlands or Plains
- They lived in subtropical parts of the U.S.A., but there were also Stegosaurus living in other parts of the world including Africa, China, Mongolia and Europe.
- The Stegosaurus would have lived alongside dinosaurs such as Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, and Brachiosaurus and they also coexisted with large predatory theropod dinosaurs, such as Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus.
IN POP CULTURE
- The Stegosaurus is one of the most popular dinosaurs in modern culture. It has been replicated in children’s toys, media, postage stamps, and film, including King Kong (1933) and Steven Spielberg’s The Lost World and was even declared the State Dinosaur of Colorado in 1982.
- Stegosaurus made its major public debut as a papier-mache model commissioned by the U.S. National Museum of Natural History for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition.
- It has been depicted on television and in movies, most notably chasing Fay Wray in King Kong and appearing in the second and third installments of the Jurassic Park films.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Stegosaurus across 27 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Stegosaurus worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Stegosaurus (STEG-oh-SORE-us) dinosaur which was first discovered in 1877 by Othniel Charles Marsh during the Great Dinosaur Rush — also known as the Bone Wars. The name means “roofed lizard” or “plated lizard’, which was given because of its most prominent feature, the two rows of plates running down its back, along the spine. It was the largest and most well-known member of the Stegosauridae family of armored dinosaurs. It lived during the late Jurassic Period, about 150.8 million to 155.7 million years ago. It primarily inhabited the western portion of North America and parts of Europe.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Stegosaurus Facts
- Taxonomic Details
- Let’s Get Physical!
- Thagomizer Weapon
- Amazing Dino
- Jurassic Film
- Word Seek
- Plated Lizard’s Info
- Fill in the Facts
- Meet The Stegosaurus
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Link will appear as Stegosaurus Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 24, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.