The most noticeable features of the stegosaurs were the large plates, or spines, along an arched back. These plates may have regulated body temperature, and they may have also given protection, or even attracted a mate. Stegosaurs had small heads, and tiny brains no larger than a golf ball. The head was carried close to the ground for eating short, leafy plants and fruits. Tail end

Stegosaurus is the most commonly known of all stegosaurs. It had long, horny spines on the end of its tail. With a quick swing of the tail, these spines could inflict a crippling stab to a predator, such as AHosaurus. Plates and spines

From above you can see the staggered plates along the top of Stegosaurus' body. This view also shows the tail spines pointing backward and outward - protection against attack from behind for when Stegosaurus was escaping.

Spines had. a

Spines had. a

Stegosaur facts

• The name stegosaur means "plated reptile."

• Stegosaurs ranged in size from 15 ft (4.5 m) to 291/z ft (9 m).

• The stegosaur group survived for over 50 million years.

• They ate only certain plants, probably seed ferns and cycads.

• All stegosaurs had tail spines for defense.

Stegosaurus The plates on Stegosaurus' back would have been useful for display, for soaking in heat from the sun, or when cooling off. The size of the plates varied greatly. They were tallest in the region of the hips, reaching about 21/2 ft (75 cm) in height.

Fossil plate This fossil plate was one of the small plates at the front of Stegosaurus. The plates were thin and made of bone, and contained a network of blood vessels.

Paleolithic Anatomy

More stegosaurs

The front legs of stegosaurs were shorter than the rear legs. Stegosaurs may have reared up on their hind legs, balancing with their tail on the ground. The supple tail and powerful rear legs could have formed a tripod allowing stegosaurs to reach higher vegetation. The plates and spines may have been used for different purposes in different stegosaurs.

Cast of 'second brain"

Dinosaur Second Brain

Tuojiangosaurus Some scientists believe this reconstructed skeleton of Tuojiangosaurus to be wrong. They think the front limbs should be straighter, and not bent like a lizard's.

Dinosaur Skeleton Ground

held off the ground

Two brains It was once believed that stegosaurs had a second brain which filled a large cavity in the hips. But this is now known to have been a nerve center, which controlled the hind limbs and the tail.

held off the ground

Kentrosaurus Six pairs of bony plates ran along the neck and shoulders of Kentrosaurus. Behind these plates were three pairs of flat spines and five pairs of long, sharp spines.

Tail spines were used weapons

Tail spines were used weapons

What Dinosaur Flat With Spines

Small plates Kentrosaurus had several pairs of large defensive spines running along the back half of its body. The back plates were much smaller than those of Stegosaurus, but probably served the same purposes.

Back plates

Stegosaurus tooth The cheek teeth of Stegosaurus were leaf-shaped. They had ridges along the top and on one side of the crown to help chew up vegetation.

Arched back

Plates ran all the way up to the head.

Back plates

Arched back

Plates ran all the way up to the head.

Anatomy Dinosaurs

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