Kentrosaurus

By | September 9, 2016

Kentrosaurus was a member of the stegosaur family, which lived in what is now central Africa. Its name means “sharp-point lizard”—its shoulders, back, and tail bore fearsome spikes that must have made it difficult for carnivores to attack.

Out of Africa

tendaguru-fossils

Tendaguru, in the dry woodlands of Tanzania, Africa, is a site famous for fossils of dinosaurs. Two complete skeletons of Kentrosaurus have been assembled from the 900 or so bones found there.

SKELETON

Kentrosaurus skeleton - Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin

Kentrosaurus skeleton – Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin

Recent research has shown that the posture of Kentrosaurus’s skeleton in many museums is incorrect. It probably held its tail off the ground and did not have sprawling legs.

SPIKED TAIL

kentrosaurus-spiked-tail

Carnivores that leaped on Kentrosaurus or that were lashed by its tail risked being stabbed by the tail spikes and suffering fatal injuries.

ONE BRAIN OR TWO?

Scientists used to think that Kentrosaurus had two brains: a tiny one in its head and a larger one in its rear end. However, experts now think its “rear brain” was just an energy store and not a brain at all.

Kentrosaurus (KEN-troh-SORE-uss)

kentrosaurus-1


When: 156–150 million years ago (Late Jurassic)

Fossil location: Tanzania

Habitat: Forests

Length: 16. ft (5 m)

Diet: Plants

Seven pairs of plates ran along Kentrosaurus’s neck and back. It had a pair of long spikes on its shoulders to protect itself from side attacks and a series of spikes along its tail to fend off attacks from behind. An entire skull fossil has never been found, but Kentrosaurus probably had a narrow snout and tiny teeth like other stegosaurs.

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