By | September 9, 2016

The most striking thing about Scelidosaurus was its armor. Rows of bony studs and spikes, some as big as a fist, ran from the head to the tail of this plant eater from the Early Jurassic. The armor probably made Scelidosaurus a slow mover and forced it to walk on four legs rather than two, but speed wasn’t its main defense.

Scelidosaurus (SKELL-ih-doe-SORE-uss)


When: 208–195 million years ago (Early Jurassic)

Fossil location: England, USA

Habitat: Woodlands of western Europe and N. America

Length: 12 ft (4 m)

Diet: Plants

All Scelidosaurus fossils have been found in rocks that formed on the seafloor, but this animal wasn’t a sea creature. Perhaps it lived near the coast or perhaps a flood farther inland killed a great number of the dinosaurs and washed them out to sea. A plant-eater, Scelidosaurus probably chomped on low growing vegetation, shredding leaves with its pointed teeth. It lived in the Early Jurassic and was an early member of a family of dinosaurs known as thyreophorans (“shield bearers,” named for their armor).


Scelidosaurus was discovered in 1858 by James Harrison, an English quarry worker, and was one of the first dinosaur skeletons found. Encased in hard limestone that was difficult to remove, the bones were largely hidden from view for more than 100 years. In the 1960s, scientists figured out how to dissolve the limestone with acid, and the whole skeleton has now been uncovered.


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