By Destin Bogart, guest blogger
As the state dinosaur of Colorado and one of the most iconic members of Dinosauria, Stegosaurus has earned this spot due to its fascinating history and its large number of fossil remains that allow paleontologists to understand more about Stegosaurus than other dinosaur genera that have a more fragmentary fossil record.
The first remains of Stegosaurus were uncovered during a period in the late 1870s known as, “The Bone Wars,” which intensified the collection efforts between two rival paleontologists—Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope. Marsh initially discovered Stegosaurus in 1877 near Morrison, Colorado. Marsh first thought those remains belonged to a turtle-like animal, but soon revised this finding as more Stegosaurus fossils were unearthed.
O.C. Marsh's 1891 illustration of Stegosaurus ungulatus.
Paleontologists now place the arrangement of the back
plates in two alternating rows and oriented vertically.
Copyright: public domain.
Through the years, paleontologists have refined the theory regarding the exact configuration of these plates, which went from two lines of identical plates on the back, to one row of plates that alternate. Scientists now place the arrangement of the back plates in two alternating rows and oriented vertically.
Stegosaurus stenops from the Late Jurassic of North America,
pencil drawing by Nobu Tamura. Copywrite: Image license through the
courtesy of Creative Commons.