Family Scelidosauridae

The position of the scelidosaurs in the dinosaur array is controversial. Some paleontologists maintain that they were the ancestors of the stegosaurs, while others believe them to be ancestral ankylosaurs. Here, they are regarded as primitive members of the ankylosaurs.

name: Scelidosaurus time: Early Jurassic locality: Europe (England) size: 13 ft/4 m long

Only 2 skeletons of Scelidosaurus have been found to date, both from the Early Jurassic of Dorset in southern England. The first specimen was discovered in about 1860 and the second in 1955.

Scelidosaurus seems to be one of the earliest and most primitive of the ornithischian dinosaurs. It had a small head (only about 8 in/20 cm long), a toothless beak and small, leaf-shaped teeth in its weak jaws. The body, however, was massive and well armored; the back was covered in bony plates, which were studded with parallel rows of spikes running from the neck to the tip of the tail and over the upper flanks. The arrangement of the bony armor suggests that Scelidosaurus was a primitive type of ankylosaur.

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