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Stegosaurus image
Stegosaurus

Stegosaurus

(Dinosaur)

Stegosaurus Baby
Stegosaurus Baby

Stegosaurus Habits

The stegosaurus lived 170 million years ago and inhabited a landmass that is now North America. At that time, the continent had a warm, almost tropical, climate that was ideally suited for a plant eater like the stegosaurus. The vegetation was similar to that found in tropical forests today, although many modern-day plants had not yet evolved. Sprawling, palm-like plants called cycads were common, along with ferns and conifers.
As a non-aggressive plant eater, the stegosaurus often fell pray to more violent, meat-eating dinosaurs. The stegosaurus was slow moving and vulnerable to attack. Since it was unable to run quickly to make an escape, it probably stood its ground and used its spiked tail as a defensive weapon.
The tail spikes were grouped in pairs and were approximately three feet long. By lashing its tail, the stegosaurus would have severely injured its attacker with the long spines.

Stegosaurus Communication

Stegosaurus's back plates can grow as large as 30 inches. Stegosaurus can use its plates to regulate its body temperature, heating and cooling its massive bulk as needed. Stegosaurus could keep warm or release heat to cool off by changing the amount of blood flowing through these plates. Stegosaurus can also control their skin color in this fashion. Scientists call this color change "blushing." Stegosaurus may use blushing as a mean of communication. For example, a Stegosaurus might blush to indicate that it is ready for a fight.

Stegosaurus Breeding

Although the information regarding the stegosaurus's breeding habits is not complete, scientists are continually making new discoveries.
It is known that many dinosaurs, including the stegosaurus, laid clutches of relatively small eggs in shallow holes scraped in the ground. They may have been covered with sand and left to hatch in the warmth of the sun.
Once the eggs hatched, the young would have grown quickly as some measure of protection from predators. The young would have been further protected by remaining in the middle of the herd. As an animal that lived in herds, the stegosaurus probably would have fought to establish breeding rights and herd leadership. As a plant eater, the stegosaurus was most likely not a vicious fighter, but rather used scare tactics to assert dominance.

Stegosaurus Food & Feeding

The stegosaurus was completely herbivorous. During the period in which it lived, a subtropical climate provided a plentiful amount of lush vegetation on which to feed. Study of fossilized skeletons has shown that the stegosaurus probably had strong back muscles that were linked to its hips and tail. These muscles enabled it to lift its forelegs off the ground and stand on its hind legs so that it could feed from branches.
Its teeth were not well adapted to eating vegetation, and it most likely had to swallow stones to grind up and digest tough plant fibers.

Stegosaurus Key Facts

        Size 
              Height: Length: Average adult, 20 ft
              Weight: 2 tons
       Breeding
             Sexual maturity: Unknown
             Mating: Not known, but there may have been some fighting among males to establish a courtship pecking order
             Gestation: Unknown
             Number of young: Not known, but possibly several clutches a year
       Lifestyle 
            Habit: Lived in herds
            Diet: Vegetation
            Lifespan: 75 years

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Fossilized remains similar to those of the stegosaurus have been found in Europe.
  • Although it lived during a period of ideal climactic conditions, the stegosaurus appears to have existed for a relatively short time, as indicated by geological records.
  • Many of today's reptiles look strikingly similar to the dinosaurs.
  • The four-inch-long horned lizard of Africa has spines like those of the stegosaurus's tail around its head and body.
  • Stegosaurus used "blushing" as a means of communication.

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