Stegosaurus

Stegosaurus lived during the late Jurassic period and is another famous dinosaur that has been depicted in pop culture several times. The most distinctive feature of the stegosaurus is its plates on its back. Scientists have argued the functions of the plates for years and have arrived to a variety of conclusions. A scale model of the stegosaurus is shown below. Here’s everything you need to know about stegosaurus.

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Mode of Life

The small teeth of the stegosaurus indicates it was a herbivore. Usually the teeth of herbivores show wear and tear from the grazing of vegetation, but interestingly, many of the teeth of the stegosaurus don’t show the same signs of stress compared to the teeth of its herbivore friends. Its small head indicates that it grazed on low vegetation as well. Unfortunately coprolites, feces that were fossilized, have not been discovered so there is still much to learn about the diet of the stegosaurus. Computer modelling has shown that the stegosaurus had an efficient mechanism of dissipating the stress that was incurred from grazing which may explain why the teeth from the stegosaurus does not show signs of high stress. Another explanation for why there was not too much evidence of wear and tear was that the Stegosaurus may have had a high tooth replacement rate so its teeth may have been subject to stress for a short amount of time. This is only a hypothesis, however, since there have not been many isolated teeth found from the stegosaurus. It’s bite only generated around 275 N for a posterior tooth which is lower than the amount of force by a posterior tooth in a Labrador dog which is 550N. For more comparison, humans generate 749 N and wolves generate 1412 N. Still, this amount of force by the bite of the stegosaurus would have been sufficient enough for it to bite through small branches and leaves.

Speed

The stegosaurus was not thought to be fast, but again there is a lack of trace fossils to confirm this. The stegosaurus was quite a large animal, so running would require a substantial amount of force.

IQ

You may have heard that the stegosaurus was dumb. It’s brain was thought to be 60 cubic centimeters which is 10% the size of a cow and extremely small relative to the massive shape of the stegosaurus. However, research shows that size isn’t exactly an indicator of intelligence so this cannot be inferred. Interestingly, the stegosaurus was thought to have a second brain in the hip region. Since there is an enlarged region near the hip region, paleontologists have thought that there are a group of neurons that control the rear half of the stegosaurus. Hence, we can’t actually say that the stegosaurus was dumb.

Spikes/Plates of the Stegosaurus

The plates on its body was thought to play a role in defending the stegosaurus, while the spikes on it tails was thought to be used as an offensive tool. There has been evidence that Allosaurus, a mighty predator dinosaur, may have hunted stegosauruses. Paleontologists found a damaged Allosaurus vertebra that supports the idea that the stegosaurus may have used its tail as a way to attack and defend itself. However, more research has shown that the spikes and plates may have played a thermoregulatory role or for mating and display purposes.

Works Cited
Cobb, Matthew. “Stegosaurs.” Current Biology 19.24 (2009): n. pag. Web.
Reichel, Miriam. “A Model for the Bite Mechanics in the Herbivorous Dinosaur Stegosaurus (Ornithischia, Stegosauridae).” Swiss J Geosci Swiss Journal of Geosciences 103.2 (2010): 235-40. Web.