9 Minutes from Manhattan
90 million years back in time

 
 

2017 Season

OPEN LABOR DAY!

10am - 6pm


The park is closed Septmember 5 to September 22.

 

 

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STEGOSAURUS


< Back to All Dinosaurs
 

FAST FACTS

PERIOD: LATE JURASSIC
LENGTH: UP TO 12 M
WEIGHT: UP TO 4.5 TONS

How do you say it?

STEG-uh-SAWR-us

Discovery:

When:       1879
Where:      Colorado
By Who:    O.C. Marsh
 

Fun Facts: 

Stegosaurus’ tail spikes were likely used for defense.

Stegosaurus’ plates may have been used for display or thermoregulation, or some
combination of the two. It is unlikely they were used for defense.

Despite its enormous size, Stegosaurus’ brain was approximately the same size as a
dog’s.

Heat

How did dinosaurs manage heat?

The debate over whether dinosaurs were endothermic ("warm-blooded") or ectothermic ("cold-blooded") began in the 1960's. Previously it had always been assumed they were ectothermic and had to warm themselves with sunlight, just like modern reptiles. Today, paleontologists almost universally agree that dinosaurs were endothermic. After all, some dinosaurs lived in Antarctica and Australia, where it was cold and dark for several months each year. 

Throughout much of the Mesozoic Era, Earth was much hotter than it is today. In addition, many dinosaurs were enormous, so managing excess heat is actually a much more interesting question to many paleontologists than how they obtained heat. 

It has been suggested that some dinosaurs had structures used primarily to release excess heat. For example, the large frill behind Triceratops' head was filled with blood vessels, and may have released heat efficiently. Other structures, like the plates on the back of Stegosaurus, and the "sail" on the back of Dimetrodon (NOT a dinosaur!) may have been used to radiate excess heat in a similar way.