Stegosaurus Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

The stegosaurus is different than other dinosaurs because it has two rows of plates on its back. Learn where the stegosaurus lived, what it ate, and how the plates might have helped the stegosaurus.

The Big Stegosaurus

The stegosaurus walked on Earth during the late Jurassic Period, which was approximately 200 to 145 million years ago. This very large dinosaur was as big as a modern-day school bus and had rows of large plates on its back.

A drawing of what the stegosaurus might have looked like

What Did It Look Like?

The stegosaurus could grow to be 30 feet long and 9-14 feet tall. It was thought to weigh about 6,800 pounds, which is almost three and a half tons.

Its body was big, but its head and brain were small. Its brain was thought to be the size of a dog's brain. I wonder if you could have taught a pet stegosaurus how to fetch a stick? At one time, scientists thought the stegosaurus had a second brain near its tail, but this idea is no longer thought to be correct.

The stegosaurus had short legs in front and long legs in back. Its long back legs tell scientists that this heavy dinosaur may have been able to run; that would have made the earth shake!

The long back legs of a stegosaurus probably enabled it to run

The most distinct feature of a stegosaurus was the two rows of bony plates on its back called scutes, for which the stegosaurus was named. The name stegosaurus means roofed lizard. The scutes could grow to be two feet tall and two feet wide, but scientists aren't sure why they were there.

The plates may have been a type of defense, or used to attract a mate. The scutes were not solid bone, and may have had blood vessels running through them, which makes some scientist think their purpose was to release or store body heat. They may have worked much like a radiator, releasing heat from inside the animal; or they may have worked like a solar panel, picking up rays from the sun to keep the stegosaurus warm.

The tail of the stegosaurus had long spikes on the side, which the stegosaurus could use as a weapon to fight off enemies.

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