STL Science Center

STL Science Center

26 July 2013

Slide on Over Scelidosaurus

©Nobu Tamura
Armored dinosaurs are always fun to talk about. Lightly armored dinosaurs are sometimes even more interesting as they tend to possess a lot of intermediate and basal characteristics; not that fully armored dinosaurs do not sometimes exhibit such characteristics. The "limb lizard" Scelidosaurus (one species, Scelidosaurus harrisonii) is one such dinosaur from the Jurassic of England. Scelidosaurus is the titular animal of the family Scelidosauridae and is a basal member of the Thyreophora; this means that the family Scelidosauridae is on a lower branch than either the Ankylosauridae and Nodosauridae (collectively Ankylosauria) or the Stegosauridae. Scelidosaurus is one of the most basal and primitive Thyreophorans. At about 13 feet (4m) long it is also a very short and stocky animal, though not stocky enough to be considered "big" in terms of dinosaurs; its estimated weight is given in kilograms rather than tons as with most stocky and well built dinosaurs. The armor on this dinosaur is extremely primitive in terms of later members of its group as well, but it is somewhat protected for an early dinosaur of the Thyreophora. The hindlimbs are longer than the forelimbs also, giving it a very Stegosaur look and possibly the opportunity to rear up to graze above its quadrupedal height while on those longer hindlimbs.

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