Stegosaurus armatus is one of the most recognizable dinosaurs of all. With a name that means “plated reptile,” Stegosaurus is a favorite among dinosaur enthusiasts. An herbivore, this dinosaur roamed western North America during the late Jurassic Period, between 145 and 150 million years ago.
Stegosaurus had small, simple teeth and weak jaw muscles. Scientists believe these reptiles were not effective chewers and ate vegetation that grew low to the ground, most likely ripping and swallowing most of it whole.
Growing up to 25 feet long, Stegosaurus had tall, bony plates that lined its back. While these plates probably offered protection, they were also crisscrossed by blood vessels and may have been used to regulate the animal’s body temperature or to signal to other Stegosaurus individuals. Stegosaurus also featured paired spikes on its tail, which it used for protection against large carnivorous dinosaurs such as Allosaurus. A few Allosaurus fossils have even been found with what are believed to be wounds inflicted by the tail of Stegosaurus.