KENTROSAURUS (KEN-troh-SORE-us)

Period: Late Jurassic

Order, Suborder, Family: Ornithischia, Thyreophora, Stegosauridae

Location: Africa (Tanzania)

Length: 10 feet (3 meters)

Kentrosaurus was only about half as large as its relative Stegosaurus. Kentrosaurus had spikes over its back, hips, and tail. It was an unusual stegosaur because it had an extra pair of spines that stuck out sideways and backward over its hips. It had large triangular plates of bone on its shoulders. The spikes discouraged predators. Its tail spines were long and pointed. Kentrosaurus got its name, "prickly reptile," because of its spikes.

This small stegosaur stood about three feet tall at the hips. Because of its short front legs and short neck, it could only eat the lowest shrubs and plants. Occasionally, Kentrosaurus may have leaned backward and stood on its back legs, supported partially by its tail, to reach for taller plants.

Kentrosaurus lived with Brachiosaurus in eastern Africa. Both were probably troubled by large, powerful predators, such as Allosaurus. The armor of Kentrosaurus only partly protected its body; its sides and underbelly were left uncovered. Kentrosaurus may have had some other ways to protect itself that paleontologists have not yet discovered.

Other stegosaurs of the Late Jurassic, including Dacentrurus in western Europe, Stegosaurus in North America, and Tuojiangosaurus in China, were closely related. Land connections in the Jurassic may have let the stegosaur ancestors travel around the northern continents.