Out With the Old Stegosaurus

by Brian Switek

Dinosaurs have changed quite a bit since I was a kid. Tails have been lifted, spines adjusted, skulls switched around, wrists repositioned, and feathery body coverings added, just to start. But some dinosaurs have changed more than others.

The tottering, lizard-skinned Tyrannosaurus rex of my youth shuffled awkwardly after whatever was slow enough to catch, while the modern visions of the carnivore depict a fluffy tyrant with a spine held parallel to the ground and a respectable 10-15 mile per hour run. T. rex almost three decades after I first met the predator is a very different animal. But the great armor-plated dinosaur Stegosaurus hasn’t undergone the same degree of sweeping alterations. Not quite.

Contrary to what I learned as a kid, Stegosaurus did not have a butt brain, nor did the dinosaur rely on the sun to warm up. And despite the variety of Stegosaurus renditions out there, lovely skeletons and evidence gleaned from them have shown that the famous dinosaur had plates arranged in a single alternating row and a thagomizer bearing four spikes. Stegosaurus was still among the oddest of all dinosaurs, but the image of the hefty herbivore as a stooped, moronic pile of ectothermic armor has been extinct for years now…

(read more: http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/04/29/out-with-the-old-stegosaurus/)

images:

T - a modern interpretation of S. stenops by Nobu Tamura

M - A modern vision of Stegosaurus on display at the Utah Field House of Natural History in Vernal (photo: B. Switek)

B - the antiquated vision of Stegosaurus by Charles R. Knight

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